Chicago Cubs Ron Cey is welcomed at the plate after hitting a three run homer in the fourth inning of the Cubs-Pittsburgh Pirates game. Cey is greeted by teammate Leo Durham.
Ron Cey? Check. Leon Durham? Check. Cubs playing the Pirates? Yup, but when?
This one was pretty simple. Once we know it’s a three-run homer in the fourth inning against the Pirates, going to Cey’s home run log at baseball-reference gives us the answer. There is only one homer of Cey’s 84 as a Cub that matches this description.
It happened Thursday, April 11, 1985. The game was scoreless going to the bottom of the fourth. Gary Matthews led off with a walk and Leon Durham reached on an error, with Matthews taking third. Pirates starter Jose DeLeon wild-pitched Matthews in to make it 1-0 Cubs with Durham taking second. The PBP says Keith Moreland laid down a bunt and was safe. Man, I wish we had video of that — Moreland was not a speedster, as you surely remember. Durham took third.
Cey then made the bunt moot by hitting the three-run homer. The Cubs won the game 4-1. Steve Trout threw a complete game, allowing just three hits and one unearned run.
That was the second game of the 1985 season. The Cubs were 35-19 on June 11 and led the NL East by four games, seemingly on their way to another division title. Then every single member of the starting rotation spent time on the disabled list, meaning guys like Lary Sorensen, Jay Baller, Steve Engel, Derek Botelho, Reggie Patterson, Johnny Abrego and whatever was left of Larry Gura were making starts in ‘85. Those seven pitchers combined for 36 starts with an ERA of 5.69 in 196 innings, and overall the pitching staff allowed 729 runs. Only the 96-loss Braves (781) were worse in the NL.
The Cubs lost 13 in a row starting June 12 and went 42-65 overall the rest of the way, finishing 23½ games out of first place. It was as ugly as it sounds.