In the opener, the Cubs "exploded" for 9 runs on 10 hits in the sixth inning, knocking out Montreal starter Carl Morton and propelling Fergie Jenkins to his third victory of the season. The Cubs won 12-1, despite only one extra-base hit, a double by Ron Santo.
|1969 Topps Team Poster|
So far, the Cubbies have hit a grand total of three home runs, two by reserve outfielder Willy Smith and one by Billy Williams. Williams is hitting .294 with 10 RBI; Santo has scored 8 runs and driven in 8; and catcher Randy Hundley leads the regulars in hitting at .359, with 7 RBI.
What the Cubs lack in hitting they've more than made up in pitching, with a team ERA of 2.17! In addition to Jenkins, Cubs' starters Bill Hands, Ken Holtzman and Joe Niekro all have a pair of wins. They've also tossed 6 complete games and a shutout.
Chicago has had just enough hitting to win half their games by one or two runs. Among the highlights:
- A 3-1 win on opening day, featuring a complete game by Jenkins and a two-run double by Williams.
- A 1-0 win by Jenkins to extend the Cubs season-opening win streak to 5 games. Santo drove in the winning run in the bottom of the first, after a double by Williams.
- A 5-4 victory over the Pirates on a two-out, three-run home run by Smith in the bottom of the eighth inning.
- A 3-2 extra-inning win by Holtzman, who went all 10 innings. The Cubs tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the ninth on doubles by Glenn Beckert and Santo. They took the lead in the 10th on a leadoff walk by rookie Oscar Gamble, who scooted all the way to third on a sacrifice bunt by Holtzman. Don Kessinger drove him in with a sacrifice fly to right field.
Following on the heels of my replay of the Milwaukee Brewers' 2008 campaign, I'm already seeing some significant differences, even though both squads posted 90-win seasons.
While the Brewers bashed 198 homers and stole 158 bases, the Cubs rely on a steadier offense throughout the lineup, stringing together singles and walks and counting on their superior starting pitching to keep games close. The Cubs aren't slow -- except for Santo -- but they've amassed all of three stolen bases in 13 games.
In contrast to Milwaukee's feast-or-famine attack and a maddening number of strikeouts, the Cubs so far have been in every game, and always seem to have runners on base. It challenges the manager's patience from time to time, however, as the Cubs often go three, four and five innings in a row with base runners but can't string together enough walks and singles to tally a score. But I'll get over it.
Replay Notes: I'm using the 1969 reprint set, so I've got every player who stepped to the plate or the mound that season. Along with the Cubs actual starting pitchers, I'm using opponents' real lineups, paying attention to trades and injuries for home and away teams.
With so many players available, I'm limiting Cubs batters to 102 percent of their actual plate appearances. Likewise, for pitchers I'm sticking to their actual games started and 102 percent of actual innings for relievers.
Frustrated by the lack of singles -- and lower batting averages -- in my Brewers' replay, I took Kevin Burghardt's suggestion on the APBA Baseball Facebook page of turning a 65-35 into a single when the bases are empty. I'm hoping this also will compensate for my tendency to always put in the opponent's top-rated reliever, even when he probably wan't always available in "real life."
Finally, I couldn't resist tweaking the schedule, throwing in a smattering of inter-league games, including a home-and-home series against the cross-town rival White Sox.
Anyway, the Cubs are off today before another doubleheader against the Pirates at Forbes Field. And those "Amazing Mets" are on the schedule for eight games in the next two weeks ...
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P.S. Here's a link to my current stats, if anyone is that interested ...