Today launches a fresh set of games between the Cubs and Cardinals, so you know what that means, OUY!
We are traveling back to June 7th, 2001. That game was the conclusion of a three-game set at Wrigley Field with the Cubs looking to sweep their nemesis. There are a lot of similarities between 2001 and now, both games at Wrigley Field, both games with a 1:20 PM first pitch, the Cardinals were looking up at the Cubs in the NL Central standings, Albert Pujols wasn't playing first base…That's right boyos, it was Prince Albert's rookie season, and he hadn't yet supplanted slugger Mark McGwire at the not-so-hot corner.
The Chicago Cubs had Kevin Tapani toe the rubber, and the Cardinals countered with Matt Morris. It started as a bit of a pitching duel. Trough five innings, Morris had allowed no hits and Tapani kept the Cards quiet outside of a bases-loaded situation in the third. Things changed in the top of the sixth when the Cardinals finally broke through. Jim Edmonds came to bat after a Placido Polanco single and made it 2-0 with one swing on the first pitch he saw. While Matt Morris kept his no-hit bid alive in the bottom of the sixth, the Cards tacked on another run in the top of the seventh.
Tides turned in the home half of the seventh. With two outs, the hit parade finally began. Matt Stairs doubled to center, Rondell White singled to center to bring him home, and Ron Coomer (Coom Dawg!) singled to center as well. It didn't score a run, but any time you can mention the Coom Dawg, you do so. Free life lesson.
The Cardinals trotted out Matt Morris in the bottom of the eighth, presumably because it was 2001 and real men face the opposing hitters at least four times. It worked out well enough for the Cubbies, as Todd Dunwoody doubled to left and was moved to third on a groundout by Eric Young Sr.Augie Ojeda (!) singled to score Dunwoody, and Slammin' Sammy Sosa doubled to deep right-center bringing home Augie. We'd head to the ninth knotted up at three apiece.
The Cards had a relatively quite top of the ninth, except for sending Bobby Bonilla up as a pinch hitter. The Cubs threatened with two down when singles by Todd Hundley and Gary Matthews left us with runners at the corners, but pinch hitter Miguel Cairo went gentle into that good night.
In the top of the tenth, Cubs reliever Jeff Fassero faced a tall task with the heart of the Cardinals order coming to bat. He struck out Jim Edmonds and Big Mac swinging, Pujols walked (he was sooooo damn good), and Ray Lankford went down swinging too. Ready to call it an evening, the Cubs got right to work. Eric Young doubled, and Augie Ojeda grounded out to move him to third. Sosa came to the plate, and wisely the Cards utilized the open base by issuing a free pass. Julio Zuleta grounded into a fielder's choice, with Young getting pinched at home plate. With Zuleta on first and Sosa on second, Rondell White called game when his single to center scored Sosa and sent the North Side faithful home happy.
Nuggets of Note:
- There was zero* hall of Famers who participated. That's semantics since Albert Pujols will be a first-ballot man when he finally retires.
- It had been only a shade over a year since Bobby Bonilla and the Mets agreed to the most famous contract buyout in sports history.
- Ron Coomer
Featured Photo: James A. Finley/AP
All stats and dates referenced are courtesy baseball-reference.com.