Well, THAT was fun.
Like, lots and lots and LOTS of fun!
More than 47 years ago, on September 16, 1975, the Pirates shut out the Cubs 22-0 at Wrigley Field. To this day (tied once), that’s the largest shutout in MLB history. Just 4,932 attended that late-September game in another lost season.
Saturday afternoon, on a gloriously beautiful 73-degree April day at Wrigley in front of a full house of 39,917, the Cubs nearly got exact revenge for that long-ago loss, coming within one run with a franchise-record 21-0 shutout of the Pirates. That was just the fifth game in the modern era (post-1900) won by shutout with that large a margin. In addition to the game mentioned above:
- September 15, 1901, Detroit Tigers 21, Cleveland Blues 0
- August 13, 1939, New York Yankees 21, Philadelphia Athletics 0
- August 31, 2004, Cleveland Indians 22, New York Yankees 0
And so, the two big shutouts by the Cubs and Pirates, now one apiece, are the only games in National League history with that big a shutout score. (This is for the modern era, post-1900.)
But wait, there’s more!
This was the Cubs’ largest shutout since May 13, 1969 at Wrigley Field against the Padres. They had a previous 19-0 shutout June 7, 1906 at the New York Giants. The 21 runs scored by the Cubs were their most since they scored 26 on August 18, 1995 at Colorado and their 23 hits were the most by a Cubs team since April 4, 2005 at Arizona (also 23). Lastly, the 21 runs scored by the Cubs were the most they had scored at Wrigley Field since June 3, 1987 vs. Houston (22 runs), and the 21-run margin of victory was the Cubs largest since July 3, 1945 at the Boston Braves (22-run margin, 24-2 win).
The Cubs’ run differential this year entering Saturday was -1. It’s now +19, which currently stands as sixth-best in MLB (pending some games coming later tonight).
How to sum up this game? I’m just going to show you all 21 runs, in order, rather than go through a game narrative. Ready?
Alfonso Rivas smashed this three-run homer to make it 9-0 [VIDEO]. Oddly, on a day when the wind was howling out to center field, this was the only homer of the afternoon.
The Cubs didn’t score in the third, but in the fourth, Rivas’ RBI single made it 10-0 [VIDEO].
Nico Hoerner had four hits on the day, but his first RBI came on this groundout, 11-0 [VIDEO].
Five more came across in the fifth. A double by Willson Contreras made it 12-0 [VIDEO].
Rivas, who drove in five on the day, hit this RBI single to make it 15-0 [VIDEO].
And, one final run in the fifth was driven in by Nico, 16-0 [VIDEO].
A scoreless sixth was followed by a run in the seventh, Nico’s fourth hit made it 17-0 [VIDEO].
Then the Pirates put Diego Castillo, who had started the game in right field, to pitch in the eighth, and the Cubs teed off on what the pitch speed meter at Wrigley called “sliders” (hint: they weren’t). The first run scored on this Patrick Wisdom hit, 18-0 [VIDEO].
Wisdom’s hit meant that every Cubs hitter had at least one hit and one run. Only Rafael Ortega and Michael Hermosillo didn’t drive one in.
The 19th and 20th runs were driven in on this single by Jonathan Villar [VIDEO].
And, run number 21 scored on a double play, but I promised to show you all of them, so here it is [VIDEO].
Whew! It really was fun, a gorgeous, exciting day at the ballpark with the Cubs setting all kinds of records. Nico Hoerner sums it up:
Nico Hoerner: "A game that got out of hand, but pretty much a packed stadium for the last out. I think a lot of people were appreciative of kind of the first day of spring/summer, right? In a lot of ways. Wrigley is awesome always. But today was like a true Wrigley experience."— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 23, 2022
While all this was going on, Kyle Hendricks was vintage Professor. He was getting weak contact, and even with the wind blowing out, there were only six outfield outs recorded in his seven innings. The only two hits he allowed were bloopy little things that landed where no fielders were in left field. It was a magnificent outing. I have previously wondered whether cold weather affects Kyle. I don’t know the answer, but I think I will research this when I have time. Clearly, on a warm day like this one, Hendricks was on his game. Let’s hope it continues.
Kyle was lifted after seven innings and 76 pitches and he had thrown more in all three of his previous starts this year, so I thought maybe David Ross would leave him in to try to finish. I suppose with such a huge lead, that was unnecessary, and newcomer Sean Newcomb and Scott Effross both needed the work, so each got an inning. Effross completed the three-hit shutout with this strikeout [VIDEO].
Hendricks, Newcomb and Effross combined to throw 106 pitches, just seven more than what might be called a “combined Maddux.”
Lastly, I thought you’d like to have a look at my scorecard (click here for a larger version):
Oh, yes. The complaint department is closed and locked up tight tonight. One curiosity, not a complaint: The Cubs are 5-2 in day games this year, 2-6 in night games. Whether this is a trend or not remains to be seen.
Sunday, weather permitting, the Cubs go for the series split. Justin Steele will start for the Cubs and JT Brubaker will go for Pittsburgh. Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.