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.
Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.
No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.
Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:
Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.
Manfred didn’t stop there, however.
An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?