Last time we travelled to 1989, the Cubs bounced back from a seven game losing streak with five wins in six games, all of them at home. The Cubs reached the All-Star break at 47-39 and 1½ games out of first place. This week, we’ll take a quick look at the All-Star Game and then we’ll dive right into the second half.
The 1989 All-Star Game was held on July 11 and was played in Anaheim Stadium. Ryne Sandberg was elected a starter to the team. Also selected were Andre Dawson, Mitch Williams and Rick Sutcliffe. Sandberg stayed in long enough to collect three at bats, striking out in two of them. Sutcliffe faced seven batters, allowing four hits and two runs.
This one started out good for the NL team as they struck for two runs in the top of the first off of Dave Stewart. But Bo Jackson homered on the second pitch in the bottom half of the inning, off former Cub Rick Reuschel. That was followed by a Wade Boggs homer and this one was tied 2-2 after one.
John Smoltz surrendered one in the second and Sutcliffe’s two in the third put this game pretty well out of reach. The AL relievers threw eight innings, surrendering only one run and the AL won 5-3. Nolan Ryan was the winner.
Dawson was hitless in one at bat and Mitch Williams faced only three batters in an inning of work, despite walking a batter.
Game 87, July 13: Cubs 7 at Padres 3 (48-39)
With Rick Sutcliffe pitching in the All-Star game, the Cubs looked to Greg Maddux to start the second half. The Cubs pressured Padres starter Bruce Hurst right out of the gate. Jerome Walton singled but was picked off. But Ryne Sandberg doubled and then Mark Grace and Andre Dawson each drew walks to load the bases. Lloyd McClendon followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Cubs their first run. Hurst worked out of the inning and the only concern would be that you only managed a single run when the first four hitters all reached base.
But the offense wasn’t done. Shawon Dunston led off the second with a single. After a strikeout and a sacrifice, Jerome Walton came up with an RBI-single and advanced to second on a defensive miscue. But again Hurst escaped further damage.
In the fourth, Vance Law led off with a single and one out later stole second. Law did steal 34 bases in a 12 year career, but this was a bit of an oddity. The gamble paid off though when Benito Santiago’s throw was wild and Law ended up at third. Joe Girardi had the Cubs’ second sac fly of the day and it was 3-0.
Garry Templeton led off the Padres fifth with a single, went to second on a Tony Gwynn sacrifice and scored while Jack Clark was reaching on a Law error. But the Cubs bounced right back. Walton and Sandberg had back to back singles to start the inning and then Grace doubled giving the Cubs their fourth run. Dawson struck out, and then McClendon was intentionally walked. Law showed off some more speed as he hit a grounder but beat the rely to first and the Cubs led 5-1.
A Santiago single, a rare Grace error and an RBI single by Bip Roberts cut the lead by one in the sixth. A one-out double by Maddux and a Walton double added another run as the Cubs scored off of the Padres bullpen. Gwynn singled and Clark doubled for the final Padres run. But the Cubs answered again in the seventh. Back-to-back singles by Grace and Dawson led to yet another sac fly, this one from McClendon, who hit 16 sac flies in his career. This was the only game in which McClendon had two SF.
Other oddities in this one included errors by Santiago, Roberto Alomar, Clark, Grace and Law. There are some pretty steady fielders in that group. Also Jerome Walton had one of just three four-hit games of his career. But the important part was the Cubs picked up a win to start their trip west and continued their hot play from before the break.
- Superhero: Mark Grace (.102). 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI, R
- Hero: Les Lancaster (.096). 2⅓ IP (8 batters), BB, 2K
- Sidekick: Jerome Walton (.092). 4-4, 2B, 2RBI, R
- Billy Goat: Joe Girardi (-.016). 0-3, SF, RBI, K
- Goat: Greg Maddux (-.012). 6⅓ IP (29 batters faced), 5H, 4BB, 3R (1ER), 3K, WP (W 9-7)
- Kid: Shawon Dunston (-.010). 1-4, R
Game 88, July 14: Padres 7, Cubs 4 (48-40)
Mike Bielecki took the ball in the second game out of the break. After the Cubs went quietly in the first he quickly surrendered back-to-back singles to Bip Roberts and Gary Templeton. One out later a walk to Jack Clark loaded the bases and then a wild pitch produced the first run. But Bielecki escaped further damage.
After a scoreless second, Vance Law singled to open the third. A fielder’s choice and a sacrifice had Shawon Duston on second when Mitch Webster singled to tie the game. Then in the fourth, a Dwight Smith double and an Andre Dawson single set up a sacrifice fly from Mark Grace for the go ahead run. In the bottom of the inning, Padres starter Ed Whitson had a two-out RBI double after Benito Santiago had extended the inning with a single, tying the game.
In the fifth inning, the wheels fell off for Bielecki. Gary Templeton slugged a rare homer to start the inning. The next two Padres struck out, but then Marvell Wynne doubled and Roberto Alomar was intentionally walked. A pair of two-out singles by Chris James and Benito Santiago scored three more runs and it was 6-2. Jack Clark added an RBI single an inning later and it was 7-2.
The score was still there until the ninth inning. Ryne Sandberg started the inning with a single. That was followed by another Smith double. Dawson singled for the first run of the inning and Grace doubled for a second. But the final three Cubs were retired in order by Mark Davis who entered the game to face Grace and retired three of four batters faced for his 23rd save.
- Superhero: Mitch Webster (.088). 1-4, RBI, 2K
- Hero: Andre Dawson (.087). 2-4, RBI, 2K
- Sidekick: Dwight Smith (.066). 2-4, 2-2B, 2R, K
- Billy Goat: Mike Bielecki (-.442). 42⁄3IP (26 batters), 9H, 4BB, 6R (5ER), 2K, WP (L 8-5)
- Goat: Damon Berryhill (-.127). 0-4, DP
- Kid: Shawon Dunston (-.104). 1-4, R, K
Game 89, July 15: Padres 3, Cubs 2 (48-41)
This one started out fantastic. Ryne Sandberg and Dwight Smith hit a pair of homers off of Padres starter Walt Terrell with one out in the first inning. Cubs starter Paul Kilgus allowed a Chris James homer leading off the bottom of second. Then Roberto Alomar and Benito Santiago had back-to-back singles. A pair of fielder’s choices led to the Padres second run and the game was tied at two.
It stayed there until the eighth inning and amazingly, after each pitcher had been tapped for two runs early, both were still pitching into the eighth. The Cubs only managed two runners as far as second base, despite more than a handful of hits. Then in the bottom of the inning, Kilgus allowed a single to future Cub Luis Salazar. A sacrifice bunt put a runner on second with Tony Gwynn due up. An intentional walk was a no brainer decision. Les Lancaster, who some will remember had an amazing summer in 1989, got Jack Clark to pop up to short. But then with two outs, James came through with what turned out to be the game winning single, scoring Salazar.
Terrell actually finished the game, throwing a perfect ninth. It’s so hard to imagine a pitcher in modern times allowing a pair of first inning homers and then going the distance.
- Superhero: Paul Kilgus (.127). 7⅓ IP (30 batters), 6H, 3BB, 3R, 3K (L 5-9)
- Hero: Ryne Sandberg (.080). 2-4, HR, RBI, R
- Sidekick: Dwight Smith (.060). 2-4, HR, RBI, R
- Billy Goat: Les Lancaster (-.186). ⅔ IP (3 batters faced), H
- Goat: Damon Berryhill (-.160). 0-4
- Kid: Jerome Walton (-.135). 0-4
Game 90, July 16: Padres 4, Cubs 3 (48-42)
Rick Sutcliffe finally made his second-half debut in this one. He wound up with the same problem Cubs pitching did all weekend: Chris James. James led off the second with another homer. Roberto Alomar followed with a walk. An error by Dwight Smith put runners on first and second with no outs. Sutcliffe beared down and struck out Luis Salazar, but then the Padres put on a double steal. Joe Girardi’s wild throw led to a second run. He escaped the inning, but the damage had been done.
In the sixth inning, Lloyd McClendon followed a lead off Mitch Webster single with a two-run homer and the game was quickly tied. Mark Grace followed with a double. A fly ball to right moved Grace to third. After Shawon Duston struck out, Girardi was walked to get to Sutcliffe. Sut was having none of it and he laced a single for the go ahead run.
But then in the bottom of the inning, the Padres received three straight singles by Jack Clark, James and Alomar to tie the game. A sacrifice and an intentional walk loaded the bases and then Tim Flannery lofted a sacrifice fly for the go ahead and ultimately winning run.
Each team’s bullpen was perfect over the final three innings with Mark Davis recording the final five outs for his second save of the series and 24th of the year.
- Superhero: Lloyd McClendon (.318). 2-3, HR, BB, 2B, 2RBI, R
- Honorable Mention: Rick Sutcliffe (.126). 1-3, RBI, K
- Hero: Jerome Walton (.107). 2-4, BB, K
- Sidekick: Andre Dawson (.044). 0-0, BB
- Billy Goat: Rick Sutcliffe (-.429). 5⅔ IP (27 batters), 7H, 3BB, 3R, 5K (L 10-7)
- Goat: Ryne Sandberg (-.320). 0-4, BB
- Kid: Shawon Dunston (-.151). 0-3, K
It was not a great week for the Cubs. They won the Thursday game for their sixth win in seven games, but then lost the other three games in San Diego. Those three losses dropped them from eight games over .500 down to just five. It also moved them from 1½ games out of first place to 3½ back.
In our next installment, they will finish their two-city road trip with three games in Los Angeles. Then there is no rest as they fly cross country for a brief four-game homestand against the Giants.
1989 Cubs Historical Heroes and Goats Player of the Week: Andre Dawson
Andre Dawson was drafted in the 11th round of the 1975 June draft by the Expos. The following year, Dawson would reach the majors at the age of 21. Then in 1977 he had his first season as a regular and that saw him win the NL Rookie of the Year. Andre played 11 years as an Expo. He received MVP votes in five consecutive seasons for them from 1979 to 1983. He won six gold gloves with them and three silver sluggers, placing himself among the games best all around players. He played in three All-Star games as an Expo.
As his years is Montreal wore on, some of Dawson’s immense talent began to fade away in the face of a number of leg problems likely caused by years of playing on artificial turf. Finally, he left following the 1986 season. In one of the few baseball stories that doesn’t ever seem to fall apart as more hyperbole than truth, Dawson famously came to Chicago in 1987. He wanted to play day baseball on natural grass. He put a blank check in front of Cubs management in Mesa and let them fill in the numbers.
What followed was a magical 1987 season. Dawson won the NL MVP, slugging 49 homers and driving in 137 runs — for a last place team. Both of those numbers led all of baseball that year. He also led the NL with 353 total bases. Another All-Star game, another Gold Glove and another Silver Slugger rounded out that year’s hardware.
Dawson played with the Cubs through the ‘92 season, making the All-Star team in all but that last season. He received MVP votes in four of his six years and one more gold glove in 1988. In all, in six seasons in Chicago, Dawson had 867 games, 3,520 plate appearances, 27 triples, 174 homers, and 587 RBI. Despite the declining speed, he stole 57 bases. He had a line of .285/.327/.507 for an OPS+ of 125.
He would hang around for two years with the Red Sox and then famously finished up with the expansion Marlins. There was a fair bit of debate as to what hat Andre would wear when he finally went into the Hall of Fame after nine rounds of voting in 2010. He rightfully wore an Expos hat, though it’s not hyperbole that Dawson had some of his most productive years on the North Side.
I’m amused that Billy Williams is noted on Baseball Reference as the second most similar to Dawson (and also that Ernie Banks sneaks in at nine). Both Dawson and Williams have done quite a bit of ambassador work for the Cubs. I never saw Williams play, but his career speaks very loudly for itself. As for Dawson, I can scarcely remember ever seeing a Cub play harder than Hawk did. It’s not unusual to see some guys on a team who reach the majors based upon hard work more than overall talent. For guys without immense tools, that is often your only chance. But Dawson is a guy who I remember because he was a gifted player and also seemed to only have one gear that Spinal Tap would have called “11.”
In short, Dawson is one of my all-time favorite players. One is left to wonder what he might have achieved had his whole career played out on natural grass. Like Ryne Sandberg before him, he was another Cub leader who preferred to be a quiet leader, letting his performance speak for itself. I have little doubt that watching guys like Sandberg and then Dawson and Walter Payton on the football field helped to form my own opinions on how the game should be played. Fortunately, I had Sammy Sosa to help me transition those views before guys like Javier Báez and Willson Contreras completely flipped the script on how to play at an elite level and also make the game fun.