Last time we looked in on the 1989 Cubs, they were winning five of six games. Pulling back further, they’d won 10 of 13. As the weather heated up, so had the Cubs. that hot play moved them to just 1½ games out of first place. With 59 games to play, that was squarely in the hunt.
This time, we’ll take a look at a whopping eight games. The Cubs came right out of a weekend series in Chicago and flew to Philadelphia for five games in four days, making one up for a rainout in April. Then they would head on to Pittsburgh for three more. Once again, if we pull out to a wider view, we have the Cubs playing 17 games in 16 days. This would be a crucial stretch of the season both because of its grueling nature and because at the end of it, there will only be 44 games remaining. That’s certainly plenty of time for a small comeback, but you wouldn’t want to slip too much further back.
Let’s get to the action.
Game 104, July 31: Cubs 10 at Phillies 2 (59-45)
The trip started with a bang and the team moved to a new season-high of 14 games over .500.
This one didn’t start out looking great. Future Cub Terry Mulholland retired the first six Cubs in order. Meanwhile, John Kruk led off the second inning with a homer to put the Phillies in front. The Cubs would get a single in the third, but they were trailing 1-0 when Ryne Sandberg led off the second inning. His homer tied the game at one.
That’s where the game was with two outs and the bases empty in the fifth. Then Curtis Wilkerson drew a walk. With Rick Sutcliffe on deck, one could imagine that Mulholland didn’t want to just give in to Wilkerson. But then Sutcliffe followed with an RBI-double. Jerome Walton followed with an RBI-single and extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Walton took second on the throw home on the play. Sandberg was intentionally walked and Mark Grace unintentionally walked. But Andre Dawson was retired stranding the bases loaded. The Cubs got two, but would they regret not adding more?
Sutcliffe retired the Phillies in order in the bottom of the inning and then Damon Berryhill got in on the action with a solo homer. Baseball was so different in 1989. Wilkerson would add a single, steal a base and advance to third on a wild throw. Mulholland a) didn’t have his best stuff and b) appeared to be fading. But there he was at the start of the seventh inning with the Phillies already trailing by three. Of course, this was the first game of a doubleheader.
In the seventh, Sandberg had a one-out single. Grace followed reaching on an error by Mulholland. Sandberg advanced to third on the play. Grace then advanced to second on a wild pitch by reliever Greg Harris. Dawson was intentionally walked to load the bases for Dwight Smith. Smith promptly unloaded them, putting the Cubs up seven with a grand slam.
Darren Daulton had the first of two back-to-back singles with one out in the bottom of the inning. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Curt Ford, but the Phils were still down six.
Sandberg would add his second solo homer of the game in the eighth. Then Dwight Smith would double and score on an RBI-single by Shawon Dunston in the ninth. Sandberg had 25 two-homer games in his career, including three against the team that drafted him. He never had a three-homer game.
This was exactly the kind of game you hope for in the front end of a doubleheader and the start of a series where you were going to play five games in four days.
- Superhero: Rick Sutcliffe (.208). 9IP (34 batters), 3H, 3BB, 2R (1ER), 6K (W 11-9)
- Hero: Ryne Sandberg (.133). 3-4, 2HR, BB, 2RBI, 3R
- Honorable Mention: Rick Sutcliffe (.121). 1-3, 2B, RBI
- Sidekick: Dwight Smith (.057). 2-2, HR, 2B, 4RBI, 2R
- Billy Goat: Andre Dawson (-.095). 0-3, BB, R
- Goat: Lloyd McClendon (-.045). 0-3
- Kid: Curtis Wilkerson (-.011). 1-4, BB, R
Game 105, July 31: Phillies 7, Cubs 4 (59-46)
The obligatory doubleheader split. Particularly on the road, you are always going to take it.
Paul Kilgus got into trouble in this one pretty quickly. Ex-Cub Bob Dernier, in his second stint with the Phillies, had a one-out single in the bottom of the first. Tom Herr then walked and an error by Shawon Dunston loaded the bases on a ground ball by Ricky Jordan. Randy Ready drew the bases loaded walk for the first run. Charlie Hayes followed with an RBI-single. Kilgus did recover to strike out Dickie Thon. But a passed ball scored a third run.
The Phillies got it rolling again in the third. Jordan and Ready started the inning with back-to-back singles and advanced to second and third on a defensive miscue. Hayes walked off of reliever Jeff Pico to load the bases. Thon struck out again. Another former Cub, Steve Lake, followed with a two-run single and the Phils had all of the runs that they would need in this one.
Mark Grace led off the fourth with a solo homer off of Phillies starter Don Carman to cut it to four. Thon finally got involved on the positive side with a leadoff single in the fifth. He advanced on an error and then scored on another RBI single from Lake. With only 108 RBI in his career, Lake had five three-RBI games (and never more than three). Three of those games were for the Cubs and this one, against them.
Jerome Walton led off the fifth with a solo homer, extending his hitting streak to 11. One out later Domingo Ramos would single and another out later, he moved to third on a Mitch Webster single. Darrin Jackson delivered a two-run double and the lead was down to only two. Jackson was starting his first game since mid-June, having been recalled a few days earlier.
Unfortunately, the Cubs couldn’t keep the momentum and their comeback fell short. Herr had a one-out double in the bottom of the inning. He then moved to third on an error by Dunston. He then scored on a fielder’s choice grounder to second when the Cubs couldn’t turn a double play fast enough.
Jeff Parrett was perfect over the final two innings for his fourth save.
- Superhero: Darrin Jackson (.086). 1-3, 2B, 2RBI
- Hero/Sidekick: Domingo Ramos/Dwight Smith (.037). Ramos: 3-4, R; Smith: 1-1, 2B
- Billy Goat: Paul Kilgus (-.256). 2IP (14 batters), 5H, 2BB, 5R (3ER), 3K (L 6-10)
- Goat: Jeff Pico (-.095). 4 IP (19 batters), 5H, 2BB, 2R (0ER), 4K
- Kid: Lloyd McClendon (-.082). 0-4
Game 106, August 1: Cubs 4 at Phillies 1 (60-46)
The Cubs reach the 60-win mark in 106 games.
The scoring started in the third inning when Domingo Ramos and Shawon Dunston started the inning with back-to-back singles. After an unsuccessful sacrifice attempt by Cubs starter Steve Wilson, Jerome Walton delivered a two-run triple extending his hitting streak to 12 games.
The game stayed at 2-0 until the sixth inning. That’s when Andre Dawson reached on an error, moved to third on a double by Lloyd McClendon and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Damon Berryhill. Ramos followed with his second single of the game, driving in McClendon.
When Lenny Dykstra led off the sixth with a single, Wilson’s day was done. Randy Ready followed with a single off of Cubs reliever Les Lancaster. A wild pitch and a Von Hayes sacrifice fly produced a run. But Lancaster worked out of it without any further damage.
Williams would retire the final five batters in order for his 27th save.
- Superhero: Steve Wilson (.246). 5IP (19 batters). 4H, 1R, 4K (W 4-0)
- Hero: Jerome Walton (.215). 2-5, 3B, 2RBI
- Sidekick: Mitch Williams (.092). 1⅔ IP (5 batters). 1K (Sv 27)
- Billy Goat: Mark Grace (-.143). 1-5, DP
- Goat: Damon Berryhill (-.060). 0-3, SF, RBI, DP
- Kid: Andre Dawson (-.034). 0-3, BB, R
Game 107, August 2: Phillies 6, Cubs 0 (60-47)
Phillies starter Ken Howell limited the Cubs to only three hits and one walk as he went the distance in this one.
Dickie Thon and Lenny Dykstra each hit a solo homer in the third inning off of Cubs starter Scott Sanderson, supplying more than enough offense in this one. Then in the fourth, Von Hayes and John Kruk started the inning with a walk and a single. After a fielder’s choice groundout, Charlie Hayes added a two-run double. One out later, Thon added his second homer of the game.
For Thon, this was one of only six two homer games in his career. For Howell, who would record 31 saves in his career, this was the only shutout of his career (in 54 starts).
Another 1989 oddity, Paul Kilgus threw two plus innings in a start on Monday, then threw an inning in relief on Wednesday.
- Superhero: Jerome Walton (.033). 1-3, BB
- Hero: Paul Kilgus (.000). IP (4 batters). H
- Sidekick: Curtis Wilkerson (-.002). 0-1
- Billy Goat: Scott Sanderson (-.227). 3⅓ IP (15 batters), 3H, BB, R (L
- Goat: Ryne Sandberg (-.068). 0-4, 2K
- Kid: Mark Grace (-.054). 0-4
Game 108, August 3: Cubs 2 at Phillies 0 (61-47)
The Cubs win three of five in Philadelphia. The Phillies were on their way to 95 losses, so certainly you’d have hoped you might get four wins, but three wins on the road is still a positive outcome.
Greg Maddux started this one for the Cubs. He threw 6⅓ scoreless innings to pave the way to this win. Jerome Walton led off the game with a single to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. But this one was scoreless into the third.
In the third, Mark Grace reached third on a ball hit to Phillies starter Bruce Ruffin. Ruffin mishandled the ball initially and then threw it away. Two errors and three bases had Grace on third when Andre Dawson followed with a ground out and the Cubs had their first run. Damon Berryhill homered in the fourth and that was all of the scoring.
Another 1989 oddity. Mitch Williams recorded four outs, but wasn’t used in a traditional closer role. Maddux uncharacteristically walked the first two batters in the seventh inning. A ground ball off the bat of Bob Dernier resulted in only a force at second and Don Zimmer summoned Williams. He got a strikeout and then a groundout to preserve the shutout. Then he retired two more batters in the eighth. Les Lancaster recorded the final four outs for his third save.
- Superhero: Mitch Williams (.261). 1⅓ IP (4 batters), K
- Hero: Greg Maddux (.242). 6⅓ IP (27 batters), 4H, 3BB, 6K, HBPP, BK (W 12-8)
- Sidekick: Les Lancaster (.104). 1⅓ IP (6 batters). 2H, K (Sv 3)
- Billy Goat: Shawon Dunston (-.090). 0-4, 2K
- Goat: Mark Grace (-.041). 0-4, R, DP
- Kid: Andre Dawson (-.035). 0-4, RBI, K
Game 109, August 4: Cubs 3 at Pirates 2 (62-47)
The Cubs take the first game in Pittsburgh, reaching 15 games over .500 for the first time this season. But this one wasn’t easy.
First up, Jerome Walton wasted no time for the second straight day, leading off the game with a single and extending his hitting streak to 15 games. But the game was still scoreless when Andy Van Slyke led off the bottom of the second with a solo homer off of Mike Bielecki. Bielecki then allowed back-to-back singles, but escaped without further damage.
Then the Cubs bats got it going off of Pirates starter Doug Drabek in the top of the third. Ryne Sandberg and Mark Grace delivered homers one out apart to give the Cubs a brief lead. But Benny Distefano tied it with a solo homer of his own in the bottom of the inning.
The game stayed tied all of the way until the ninth inning with the teams combining for only two hits (and no other baserunners) between the fourth and eighth innings. But in the ninth, Damon Berryhill led off with a single off of Drabek. He advanced to second on a sacrifice by Mitch Webster and scored on a Vance Law single.
Mitch Williams pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his 28th save.
- Superhero: Vance Law (.292). 1-3, BB, RBI
- Hero: Mike Bielecki (.229). 8IP (32 batters), 7H, BB, 2R, 5K (W 11-5)
- Sidekick: Mitch Williams (.167). IP (4 batters), H, K, WP (Sv 28)
- Billy Goat: Dwight Smith (-.129). 0-4, K
- Goat: Jerome Walton (-.116) 1-5
- Kid: Andre Dawson (-.044). 0-1, K
Game 110, August 5: Cubs 4 at Pirates 2 (63-47)
The Cubs reached 16 games over .500 for the first time when they won their third straight. There is never any substitute for good pitching and the Cubs by and large were getting great results out of their pitching.
Bobby Bonilla actually drew first blood in this one when he led off the bottom of the second with a solo homer. But the Cubs bounced right back in the third. Shawon Duston led off the inning with a single off of John Smiley. But Rick Sutcliffe followed by grounding into a double play. With two outs, Jerome Walton dropped down a bunt that Smiley fielded. Walton not only beat the throw to first, but the throw went wild and Walton ended up on second. Ryne Sandberg doubled and the game was tied.
In the fourth, Bonilla drove the offense again. He doubled with one out and then scored on an RBI single by Glenn Wilson. The Pirates held that 2-1 lead through the end of the eighth.
Lloyd McClendon started the ninth for the Cubs with a single. Damon Berryhill followed with a single of his own and pinch runner Darrin Jackson raced to third. It was good that he did, because Vance Law had a sacrifice fly to tie the game at two. Joe Girardi ran for Berryhill and he advanced to second on a wild pitch. He then scored on a Dunston single. Mitch Webster flew out, but the speedy Dunston advanced to second on the play. That’s where he was when Jerome Walton’s third single of the game gave the Cubs a 4-2 lead. Walton extended his hitting streak to 16 in this game.
Mitch Williams allowed a one-out single in the ninth and Don Zimmer went to Les Lancaster. Lancaster walked the first batter he faced to make things scary, but got a game-ending double play for his fourth save.
- Superhero: Damon Berryhill (.408). 3-4, 2B
- Hero: Shawon Dunston (.255). 2-4, RBI, R, K
- Sidekick: Ryne Sandberg (.157). 2-5, 2B, RBI
- Billy Goat: Vance Law (-.178). 0-3, SF, RBI, K
- Goat: Mark Grace (-.173). 0-4
- Kid: Andre Dawson (-.074). 1-4
Game 101, August 6: Pirates 5, Cubs 4 (63-48)
The Cubs nearly finished the sweep of the Pirates in this one. They led going into the bottom of the ninth before coughing up the lead. But then, this one would go a season-long 18 innings. Of course, the Dodgers and Astros had played a 22 inning game a little over a month earlier (ending in the same score), This was a bit of a crazy one.
Jerome Walton wasted no time extending his hitting streak to 17 games. He doubled leading off the game and advanced to third on a Barry Bonds error. One out later, Dwight Smith drove in the game’s first run.
In the bottom of the inning, the Pirates jumped on Cubs starter Jeff Pico. Bonds led off with a single and Jose Lind sacrificed him to second. Andy Van Slyke followed with a two-run homer. One out later RJ Reynolds singled and went to second on a wild pitch. There he scored on a single by Mike LaValliere.
Andre Dawson got one back for the Cubs with a leadoff homer in the second. That one run lead held firm until the sixth when Dwight Smith slugged a game-tying homer.
In the top of the ninth, there were two outs when Shawon Dunston singled. He stole second and then the Pirates intentionally walked Damon Berryhill to face Domingo Ramos. Ramos followed with a go ahead RBI double.
Calvin Schiraldi faced the first two batters in the ninth and it went walk, wild pitch walk. Don Zimmer then summoned Steve Wilson. Wilson faced Jay Bell who sacrificed the runners along. Then Wilson issued an intentional walk to Glenn Wilson. To get to Barry Bonds. One has to wonder if Wilson ever tells his grandkids about the day they walked him to get to Bonds. Bonds came through with a sacrifice fly against Mitch Williams and tied the game at five.
Where it would stay. For the next eight innings. The Cubs used starter Scott Sanderson in the tenth. He got into trouble right away and the Pirates had runners at first and third with only one out when Jeff King grounded to short. Dunston gunned down the runner at the plate and preserved the tie.
The Cubs hit into double plays in the 11th, 12th, 14th, and 16th innings. That last one was a first and third situation and Mark Grace was gunned down trying to score. Meanwhile, Scott Sanderson went on to face 31 batters over eight innings of relief. This was tied for the second longest outing of the year for Sanderson. It was unfortunately Sanderson who allowed a leadoff homer for Jeff King in the 18th inning. That made Doug Drabek, who’d started Friday’s game, a winner in relief. Drabek pitched the final two innings in relief. It was the third and final relief appearance Drabek made as a Pirate. 199 appearances as a Pirate over six seasons and 196 of them were starts.
- Superhero: Scott Sanderson (.559). 8IP (31 batters), 7H, 2BB, R, 5K (L 9-8)
*This was the 3rd highest WPA game score of the season by a Cub
- Hero: Darrin Jackson (.186). 2-3
- Sidekick: Les Lancaster (.174). 2IP (7 batters), BB, 4K
- Billy Goat: Shawon Dunston (-.496). 2-6, S, R, SB, DP
*This was the 3rd lowest WPA game score of the season by a Cub
- Goat: Calvin Schiraldi (-.320). 0IP (2 batters), 2BB, R, WP
- Kid: Dwight Smith (-.155). 1-8, HR, 2RBI, R, K
So the Cubs missed by an eyelash of winning six of eight games on the week. Instead, they settle for five of eight. Again, hard not to be satisfied with that result. Particularly on the road, despite playing two teams who would combine to finish 45 games out of first place and lose over 180 games.
The Cubs had now won 15 of 21. And in this particularly rough patch of consecutive games, they had started out with wins in eight of the first 11 games. After starting the week 1½ games behind the first place Expos, the Cubs were three full games out of first by the time they lost their second game on Wednesday in Philadelphia. But, when they won three games in three days after that, they reached a first place tie. Both teams lost on Sunday keeping a tie.
As fate would have it, the surprising Expos were in Chicago for three games starting the next week. We’ll pick it up right there next week. After that, they’ll have four more with the Phillies, including another of the season’s craziest games of the year on Thursday. We’ll see if the Cubs seized their opportunity to take control of the division or if the team stumbled coming to the end of a long stretch of games.
Cubs Historical Heroes and Goats Player of the Week: Darrin Jackson
DJ is best known around Chicago for his work in the White Sox broadcast booth. But the Cubs drafted Darrin in the second round of the 1981 draft. In 1985, a 21-year-old Jackson reached the majors for five games with the Cubs. He played seven more with the big club in 1987, but it wasn’t until 1988 that he got an extended look. That season he appeared in 100 games, getting 197 plate appearances. Obviously, he wasn’t used often as a starter with numbers like that, but he made good use of his playing time with a line of .266/.287/.452. Of course, a player with decent speed would hopefully get on base a bit more than that. Still, that amounted to an OPS+ of 106 and meant that he was plenty serviceable.
In 1989, Jackson got crowded out with guys like Lloyd McClendon, Dwight Smith and Jerome Walton being surprisingly productive in the outfield. DJ only got into 45 games, taking 89 plate appearances before getting traded. On August 30, Jackson and Calvin Schiraldi would be dealt to the San Diego Padres for Marvell Wynne and Luis Salazar. That was pretty much the biggest deal for the Cubs during that season.
Jackson would last eight more seasons in the majors, largely with the Padres, but also playing for the Blue Jays, Mets, White Sox (twice), Brewers and Twins. In 1991 and 1992, he received fairly regular time for the Padres and had seasons of 21 and 17 homers. He also had the dubious distinction of leading the league in hitting into double plays in ‘92. He spent two seasons in Japan, mid-career.
In addition to the Salazar/Wynne deal, at various times Jackson was traded for Derek Bell and Tony Fernandez.
It should come as little surprise that DJ is remembered so fondly by many White Sox fans. Despite a somewhat pedestrian major league career, he was very productive on the South Side. Over two seasons there, he had a line of .301/.341/.448. For a guy capable of playing all three outfield spots, that will play in any era.