When the Cubs beat the Braves 1-0 on Wednesday, they did it sending a total of 26 men to the plate. It was the first time since 2007 that a team had won a nine-inning game without every spot in the order getting three plate appearances.
Of course, to pull off such a feat a team needs to be at home, meaning it wouldn’t have to bat in the ninth. It would have to score at least one run, meaning the fewest number of plate appearances the team could have is 25. The Cubs had 26 today.
What’s really incredible is that the Cubs actually had five hits. However, the first two singles were erased on double plays and Starlin Castro was thrown out at home trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park home run. As a result, Tim Hudson faced the minimum through six.
The Cubs went on to get their run in the seventh on a single, a sac bunt, a groundout and another single. The first runner scored, while the second was left on base, the lone runner left on base for the team. The Cubs then went down in order in the eighth before holding on to win 1-0.
The last team to win a nine inning game while sending 26 men to the plate was the Tigers, against the Indians, on Aug. 21, 2007. They won 2-1 on a pair of solo homers from Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen.
The 1992 Braves were the last team to win a nine-inning game sending 25 men to the plate. They beat the Pirates 1-0 on July 25 on a David Justice homer, the only hit allowed by Danny Jackson.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 18 years since Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa captivated the nation with their epic chase of Roger Maris’ home run record. But it has been, and after years of reaction, counter-reaction and, of course, baseball’s reckoning with the performance-enhancing drugs which helped fuel the chase, it’s probably finally time to do our best to contextualize it historically.
Today one of my favorite news outlets does that with an oral history. All of the key figures weigh-in on it, from McGwire and Sosa to Bud Selig to Tony La Russa. Randy Johnson makes an appearance as well, reminding us that it wasn’t just the sluggers who had an amazing year in 1998. Indeed, his story, including his being traded to Houston and going on an amazing second-half run, has almost been lost to history.
This is bookmark material, my friends. For savoring later if you can’t read it now. And for revisiting at another time given the depths to the drama which justifies multiple readings. I’ll just warn you that there is some adult language in the story, but that’s to be expected given the passion the 1998 baseball season inspired.
Go check it out.
UPDATE: Cabrera was removed from the game due to back spasms.
1:21PM: This is not good: Asdrubal Cabrera was removed from today’s game against the Nationals with an apparent injury.
It’s unclear what the injury was, as Cabrera had yet to even play in the game. Matt Reynolds came on to play shortstop in the bottom of the first inning, but Cabrera didn’t bat in the top of the first. It could be an illness. Or some freak occurrence.
We’ll update when we hear more.
Last night’s Cardinals-Cubs game was a blowout, with the Cubs beating the Cards 12-3. Apparently, however, in the ninth inning of the game, Reynoldsburg, Ohio’s own Mike Matheny played the Cardinals infield in, which is a move you never see in a blowout. Why did he do that?
He hasn’t said yet, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon just spoke to the media before today’s game and he’s speculating that Matheny did it as a form of protest:
God, I hope that’s true. I hope that manager replay challenges, which are already dumb enough inasmuch as they turn what should be an officiating correction device into a strategic tool, are now turning into another front in the Great Unwritten Rules Wars. I hope that we now have a bunch of people talking about how there’s a right way and a wrong way to use the replay system and that one can disrespect the other side if they do it the wrong way. The way the replay system has been implemented often resembles tragedy. Why not make it farce?
Oh well, I guess it beats throwing at someone for doing that wrong. And I guess it’s just a reminder that no matter what we do, baseball is always gonna give us an opportunity for petty bits of silliness.
The St. Louis Cardinals just announced that they have acquired minor league outfielder Jose Martinez from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations.
Martinez was the 2015 Pacific Coast League batting champ, hitting .384 in 98 games. This year he’s hitting .298/.356/.433 in 37 games. He doesn’t have a ton of power — he’s more of a doubles guy — and turns 28 this year so he’s not a prospect but he’s not chopped liver.
Meanwhile, Cash Considerations continues to be well-traveled. It must be hard for him to be dealt so many times a season. So much uncertainty and time away from his family. Feel for the guy.