Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Banks, Cubs Star as Nationals Rally for Win in '69 All-Star Game Replay

Cubs first baseman Ernie Banks went from late-inning sub to All-Star Game hero with a two-out, two-run home run in the eighth inning that propelled the National League to a 4-2 win over the American League.

With his clutch hit, Banks was named the All-Star Game MVP. But he wasn't the only Cub to make a key contribution. Second baseman Glenn Beckert drove in the tying run in the seventh inning with a sacrifice fly to score Dennis Menke, who had come into the game as a pinch runner for Cubs third baseman Ron Santo, who led off the inning with a walk.

Cubs ace Fergie Jenkins was a late addition to the NL squad after posting 17 wins before the All-Star break. He pitched one inning of scoreless relief. Shortstop Don Kessinger went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI in the second spot in the NL batting order.

Cubs leftfielder Billy Williams -- another late addition to the team due to batting .322 with 12 homers and 64 RBI -- grounded out to lead off the third inning as a pinch hitter for starting pitcher Steve Carlton of the Cardinals. Catcher Randy Hundley struck out in his only at bat in the ninth inning.

With seven players on the team -- the most of any team in either league -- the Cubs were well-represented in the mid-season classic.

But it was Banks' late-inning heroics that sealed the deal for the Nationals. Oakland's John "Blue Moon" Odom looked like he would sail through the eighth after striking out Willie Mays to lead off the inning. After a single by Kessinger, Hank Aaron hit a routine fly ball to Carl Yastrzemski in left field.

That's when Banks, a Hall-of-Famer and 11-time all-star, smacked it over the left field fence at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. (Incidentally, this would be the last All-Star Game appearance for Banks, who retired after the 1971 season.)

The American League scored first, after pinch hitter Mike Hegan of the upstart Seattle Pilots led off with a single in the third inning off Tom Seaver of the Mets. Hegan went to third on a single by Minnesota second baseman Rod Carew, who then stole second. Hegan scored on a ground out to second by Reggie Jackson of the A's, with Carew moving to third on the play.

Frank Robinson of the O's then drew a walk off Seaver, who had entered the game to pitch the bottom of the third. With Orioles first baseman Boog Powell batting, Robinson and Carew executed a nifty double steal, with Carew scoring on the play. Robinson then was stranded at second as sluggers Powell and Frank Howard of the Senators both grounded out to end the inning.

That would be it for the American League, as they mustered only three more singles and a trio of walks over the next six innings.

The National League finally got on the scoreboard in the sixth inning as pinch hitter Pete Rose of the Reds lived up to his nickname, Charlie Hustle. He led off the inning with a single off Tigers ace Mickey Lolich. He advanced to second on a ground out by Matty Alou of the Pirates. He came around to score on Kessinger's first single.

The Nationals tied the game in the seventh on Beckert's sacrifice fly to right field, then took the lead on Banks' home run in the eighth.

San Francisco's Juan Marichal got the win while pitching a scoreless seventh and eighth inning. Larry Dierker, who tossed a no-hitter versus the Cubs earlier in the season, got the save.

The bottom of the ninth was not without a bit of drama, however, after Dierker surrendered a leadoff single to Boston's Yastrzemski. Yaz then promptly stole second, and Brooks Robinson walked. Next up was Minnesota's Harmon Killebrew.

The Twins slugger smacked a fly ball to deep left center, but Mays was able to track it down. Mays then gunned a throw to Menke at third to nail Yastrzemski for the second out. Dierker then struck out Twins catcher Johnny Roseboro to end the game.

Odom was tagged with loss after giving up Banks' game-winning hit.

Cubs fans can only hope the All-Star success translates to an equally successful second half of the 1969 replay season for their first-place Cubbies...


Jenkins Gets 15th Win as Cubs Close in on '69 All-Star Game

Hall-of-Famer Fergie Jenkins defeated the Washington Senators 3-2 as the Cubs notched their 61st win before the 1969 All-Star Game.

Jenkins pitched like an all-star versus the Senators, scattering eight hits and striking out eight batters in besting Washington's Dick Bosman. The victory came on the heels of Dick Selma's two-hit shutout the day before, as he won 4-0 against the Senators and the Cubs neared the end of their interleague schedule.

Interleague play hasn't necessarily been a blessing for the Cubs as they've compiled just an average 15-12 record heading into a three-game set with Seattle in their final interleague matchup. That compares to a 46-22 record against their traditional NL rivals.

Overall, the replay Cubs stand at 61-34 after 95 decisions, compared to 59-36 in real life.

The Cubs continue to rely on strong pitching and timely hitting. In addition to Jenkins at 15-5, Ken Holtzman has a record of 13-7 and Bill Hands stands at 11-6. Phil Regan and Ted Abernathy each have six saves out of the bullpen.

Billy Williams and Ron Santo are leading the offense. Williams is batting .325 with 12 home runs, 63 RBI and 50 runs scored. Santo's batting average keeps rising -- he's now at .272 -- and he leads the team in home runs with 14 and RBI with 64. He has scored 45 runs and leads the team in on-base percentage at .384.

Leadoff hitter Don Kessinger leads the team in runs scored with 60, to go along with his .275 batting average. The Cubs also have benefited from the return of Glenn Beckert from an injury that kept him out of about 30 games. He is hitting .314 in the number-two spot and has scored 39 runs.

Rightfielder Jim Hickman has had a number of key hits in recent weeks, raising his average to .261, with 12 home runs and 39 RBI. Randy Hundley has been steady behind the plate, also batting .261 with 35 runs scored and 41 RBI.

Hall-of-Famer Ernie Banks is starting to get it going. He now has 8 home runs and 31 RBI.

Here are some of the highlights from other recent games:

June 27: Steve Carlton of the Cards out-duels Holtzman, winning 4-2 at Wrigley Field. Lou Brock iced it with a home run in the ninth inning.

June 28-29: The Cubs win two out of three games against the Yankees, including a 7-2 win by Jenkins in the first game of a Sunday doubleheader at Wrigley Field.

July 1: Santo drives in two runs with a single in the top of the 11th inning to lead the Cubs over the Orioles 7-5. Beckert went 4-for-6 with two runs and two RBI in his return to the lineup. The Orioles went on to win the next two games.

July 8: Jenkins shuts out the A's 6-0 to snap a six-game losing streak. Yikes! Jenkins beat Catfish Hunter in another showdown between hall-of-fame pitchers.

July 10: Hickman hit a two-run homer and the Cubs rally for three runs in the eighth inning to beat the A's and win two of three games at the Oakland Coliseum.

July 12: Santo hits a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Cubs beat the White Sox 7-2. Santo had four RBI, Banks added a home run, and the Cubs ended up going 3-3 against their cross-town rivals.

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