Sunday, May 25, 2014

Interleague Schedule Can't Slow '69 Cubs

With a three-game sweep of the Red Sox, the Cubs pushed their record to an incredible 53-19 in a replay of the team's memorable 1969 season.

The latest victory was a 5-4 walk-off win in the 21st inning as Jim Qualls singled off Fred Wenz to bring home Jim Hickman, who had led off the inning with single. Dick Selma got the win for the Cubs, who were led by Hall-of-Famers Billy Williams and Ernie Banks, who each tallied five hits and a home run.

The win over Boston raised Chicago's interleague record to 7-2, including a pair of victories over Detroit and two wins over the crosstown rival White Sox. In this replay, the Cubs will play 30 interleague games in all, six against the White Sox. (Of course, it wouldn't be until 1997 that the Cubs would play an interleague game for real!)

The Cubs continue to be led by their strong starting trio of Fergie Jenkins (11-4), Bill Hands (10-4) and Ken Holtzman (13-4). Each has thrown three shutouts and they have totalled 37 complete games! Ted Abernathy has 4 wins and 6 saves out of the bullpen to go along with Phil Regan's 3 wins and 5 saves.

Leadoff man Don Kessinger has ignited the offense with his .295 average and 53 runs scored.

Williams and Ron Santo have buoyed the center of the lineup -- Williams is hitting .335 with 9 home runs and 52 RBI; Santo leads the team with 10 home runs and has driven in 48 runners. Willie Smith has 9 home runs in his part-time role.

Paul Popovich has admirably filled in for the injured Glenn Beckert since being acquired in a trade with the Dodgers. In 16 games, Popo is batting .288 with 11 runs and 11 RBI. After his slow start, Hickman continues to provide punch at the bottom of the lineup with 8 home runs and 30 RBI.

Next up for the Cubs are games against division rivals Pittsburgh and St. Louis before hosting a three-game set versus the Yankees at Wrigley Field.

Here are some of the highlights from the past 30 games:

May 25: Randy Hundley smacks a three-run pinch-hit home run in the top of the ninth inning to propel the Cubs to an 8-6 win over the Padres.

May 31: Jenkins shuts out the Braves 5-0, limiting Atlanta's lineup to five singles and striking out nine.

June 7: Light-hitting Nate "Pee Wee" Oliver smacks a grand slam to lead the Cubs to an 8-3 win over the Reds. Oliver, primarily a pinch runner to this point in the season, was starting for the injured Beckert.

June 9: Two days later Al Spangler hits his second home run of the season, a walk-off two-run dinger to defeat the Reds 8-6.

June 14: Reds right-fielder Bobby Tolan hits a walk-off grand slam to beat the Cubs 9-5. He had hit a solo home run in the eighth to tie the game. Willie Smith had put the Cubs ahead in the top of the ninth with a two-out, two-run pinch-hit home run before Tolan helped the Reds rebound.

June 17: Jenkins throws a three-hit shutout as the Cubs defeated the White Sox 7-0 in the first interleague game of the season.

June 20: Hands loses a 1-0 one-hitter after allowing a seventh-inning solo home run to Mack Jones of the Expos.

June 21: The Cubs pound Tigers ace Mickey Lolich in a 9-4 win over Detroit.

Note: Here are the up-to-date stats for my Cubs replay.