12/31 Top 10 Cubs games of the Decade
It’s time to ring in the new year and new decade. In the first 10 years of the 2000s, the Cubs reached the postseason three times (2003, ’07 and ’08), had five managers (counting Rene Lachemann’s one-game in ’02 and Bruce Kimm), and changed ownership. Here are 10 of the most memorable games of the last decade. Agree? Disagree? What’s your favorite game?
1. Game 5 of National League Division Series, Oct. 5, 2003: For the first time since 1908, the Cubs won a playoff series. Kerry Wood had won Game 1 of the ’03 NLDS when he struck out 11 and hit a two-run double. In the deciding Game 5 on Oct. 5 in front of 54,357 at Turner Field, Wood fanned seven and held the Braves to one run in a 5-1 victory. Aramis Ramirez, a key in-season acquisition from the Pirates, hit a two-run homer.
2. Game 7 of NL Championship Series, Oct. 15, 2003: After the debacle of Game 6 (see No. 3), Wood started the deciding game of the series on Oct. 15, and served up a three-run homer to Miguel Cabrera in the first inning. But Wood gave Cubs fans hope when he hit a two-run homer in the second to tie the game at 3. Moises Alou’s two-run homer in the third opened a 5-3 lead. But the Fish scored three in the fifth and dashed the Cubs’ dream with a 9-6 series-clinching win.
3. Game 6 of NLCS, Oct. 14, 2003: The Cubs led the NLCS against the Marlins, three games to two, and had taken a 3-0 lead in Game 6 in front of 39,577 at Wrigley Field. Then the fateful eighth. Mark Prior started the game and retired the first batter. The Cubs were five outs away from getting to the World Series for the first time since 1945. Juan Pierre doubled, and Luis Castillo popped up, sending a ball to foul territory which fans in the left field seats tried to catch. So did Cubs left fielder Moises Alou. Nobody did, and Castillo walked. Both he and Pierre moved up on a wild pitch by Prior. Ivan Rodriguez hit a RBI single and Miguel Cabrera reached on an error by shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Derrek Lee — yes, the same D-Lee now with the Cubs — delivered a two-run double which tied the game and chased Prior. The Marlins would score eight runs in the inning and win, 8-3.
4. Carlos Zambrano’s no-hitter, Sept. 14, 2008: The Cubs and Astros were relocated to Miller Park in Milwaukee because of hurricane damage to Houston, and 23,441 bought tickets to the last-minute game. What a trip. Big Z struck out 10 and walked one in a 5-0 victory over the Astros, the first no-hitter by a Cubs pitcher since Milt Pappas did so Sept. 2, 1972.
5. Sammy Sosa’s 500th home run, April 4, 2003: In the top of the seventh inning in Cincinnati, Sosa connected off Scott Sullivan for his historic blast, launching a 1-2 fastball over the right-center field wall. It was his first home run of the ’03 season.
6. Greg Maddux’s 300th win, Aug. 7, 2004: Maddux had returned to the Cubs for the 2004 season, and in San Francisco, he became the 22nd pitcher to join the elite 300-win club. The Cubs posted an 8-4 victory over the Giants in front of a sellout crowd of 42,578. Maddux notched the win in his second try.
7. The Ramirez walkoff, June 29, 2007: Aramis Ramirez belts a two-run walkoff homer with two outs in the ninth off Francisco Cordero to power the Cubs to a 6-5 victory over the first-place Brewers in front of 41,909 at Wrigley Field. The win was the Cubs’ seventh straight and boosted them to .500 for the first time since early May. “I know it’s early,” Mark DeRosa said, “but it’s an exciting win for us.”
8. Lou’s first ejection, June 2, 2007: One day after Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano scuffled in the dugout, Lou Piniella erupted and was ejected in the eighth inning for arguing a call at third base. It was the first time he was tossed as a Cubs manager and the 60th ejection of his career.
9. The rally vs. the Rockies, May 30, 2008: The Cubs rally from deficits of 8-0 and 9-1 to beat the Colorado Rockies, 10-9, at Wrigley Field. Kosuke Fukudome, Jim Edmonds and Henry Blanco each homered and DeRosa smashed a two-run shot to cap a six-run seventh inning. Ryan Theriot and Aramis Ramirez didn’t start the game and Piniella pulled Derrek Lee and Geovany Soto after the Rockies opened a 9-1 lead in the sixth.
10. The Barrett-Pierzynski game, May 20, 2006: Barrett and A.J. Pierzynski collide at home plate in the second inning of the Cubs’ Interleague game against the White Sox, sparking a bench-clearing fight and four ejections. The White Sox had the bases loaded with one out against Rich Hill at U.S. Cellular Field. Pierzynski raced home on Brian Anderson’s fly ball and barreled into Barrett. Pierzynski slapped the plate with his hand and got up. Barrett grabbed the White Sox catcher and delivered a right punch to the face. The Cubs eventually lost, 7-0.
– Carrie Muskat