Wrigley 100 August 29: The Comeback
On this day in 1989, the Cubs surprising run to the Eastern Division crown took a wild twist when they came back from a 9-0 deficit to Houston and rallied to beat the Astros 10-9 at Wrigley Field. The win perfectly defined the 1989 Cubs, who didn’t know when they were beat and never worried about the fact they were supposed to be winners that year.
Certain games in Wrigley history have their own designation, such as “The Ryno Game”. This one is appropriately known as “The Comeback”.
It was a tough luck day for any of the the 25,829 in Wrigley Field who left early. Starter Mike Bielecki had gotten drilled, shortstop Rafael Ramirez had 7 RBIs, and the Cubs were down 9-0 with two outs in the sixth inning. Shawon Dunston hit a comebacker to Mark Portugal who only needed to throw him out at first to keep his five-hit shutout going. Instead, Portugal threw the ball away and Mark Grace scored the Cubs first run. They added another and the comeback was on.
After there were two outs in the sixth, the Cubs sent 29 men to the plate. Nineteen of them reached base-13 on hits, 4 on walks, 1 on a hit batsman and 1 on an error.
Seeking to rest his slugger’s knees, manager Don Zimmer removed Dawson after the sixth. “Somebody asked me if I wanted to take Sandberg and somebody else out in the fifth inning,” Zimmer said. “I said, `No, that will look like we’re quitting. There`s still half a ballgame to go.’ ” He was right.
In the seventh, Lloyd McClendon hit a two-run homer, his 11th of the season and second in as many days. Later that inning, Dwight Smith’s single chopped Houston’s lead to 9-5.
The Cubs tacked on four runs in the eighth to tie it, the last coming on a Dwight Smith (remember that name) sac fly.
The comeback was complete in the 10th. Jerome Walton led off the inning with a walk. One out later, Lloyd McClendon singled and Mark Grace was walked intentionally, loading the bases and setting up Dwight Smith’s single off Astros reliever and future Cub Dave Smith to right field. It was Dwight Smith’s third run batted in after he replaced Andre Dawson in the seventh inning. Smitty came in on a 2-for-30 streak but that single was one of the highlights in his 1989 rookie season.