Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cubs 365, April 24

On this day in 1957, the Cubs set a big league record. It's not exactly one that they advertise.

The Cubs were playing the Reds in Cincinnati on a cold day in front of only 7212 fans at Crosley Field. On the mound for the Cubs; their young right hander from Poland, Moe Drabowsky. Moe had cruised through the Reds order in the first four innings, making only one mistake--a ball that was hit out of the park by Reds left fielder Bob Thurman.

The Cubs were leading the game 2-1 when the Reds came up in the bottom of the fifth. Moe was facing the bottom of the order for the Reds. He got the number 6 hitter, catcher Ed Bailey, on a routine fly. That's when the Polish Prince fell apart. He walked the #7 hitter, third baseman Don Hoak. He walked the #8 hitter, shortstop Roy McMillan. And then he walked the pitcher Joe Nuxhall to load the bases.

Cubs manager Bob Scheffing didn't see this collapse coming, so he got his bullpen up a little late, and was forced to let Moe work to another hitter. The lead-off man Alex Grammas was replaced by pinch hitter Jerry Lynch. Moe walked him too...tying the game at 2.

Scheffing had seen enough. The next hitter was Bob Thurman who had hit a home run his last time up to bat. He couldn't risk giving up a grand slam, so he pulled Drabowsky from the game and brought in reliever Jackie Collum.

In one way, it worked out. Collum didn't give up a grand slam. He did, however, give up another walk, the fifth of the inning, making the score 3-2. The next batter, centerfielder Gus Bell, should have been taking all the way, but he helped out Collum by grounding out to first for the second out.

With first base open, and two outs, the Cubs opted to intentionally walk cleanup hitter Wally Post to reload the bases, the sixth walk of the inning. All Collum needed was a simple ground ball and the Cubs would have escaped with minimal damage. On the bright side, he got that ground ball. But in true Cubs fashion, it went through the infield, and scored two more runs.

After Collum reloaded the bases by walking another batter for the seventh walk of the inning, he was replaced by reliever Jim Brosnan. Brosnan only needed to get one batter, and with the bases loaded, there was a force at any base.

Naturally, Brosnan walked the same batter Drabowsky walked to start the onslaught--the #7 hitter, Don Hoak. And he walked the 8th hitter in the lineup, Roy McMillan too, for the ninth walk of the inning.

Finally, and mercifully, with the bases still loaded, Brosnan struck out the pitcher Joe Nuxhall for the third out.

By the time the inning was over, a one run lead had turned into a six run deficit. In one inning the Reds managed to score seven runs on one hit, thanks to a still-record nine walks in one inning.

On the other hand, that loss (9-5) didn't exactly cost the Cubs the pennant in 1957. They finished tied for last place with the Pirates, 33 games behind the eventual World Series champion Milwaukee Braves.