29 Years Ago Today: Cubs clinch NL East
Leon Durham (left) celebrates with Rick Sutcliffe.
It had been a while—a few decades really. Thirty-nine years after the Cubs lost a seven-game series to the Tigers in the 1945 Fall Classic, the North Siders finally made it back to the postseason in 1984.
Twenty-nine years ago today, Chicago powered past the host Pirates 4-1 behind starter Rick Sutcliffe’s two-hit complete game, clinching the NL East title. Gary Matthews scored Ryne Sandberg on a single in the top of the first; Sutcliffe helped his own cause in the second, singling to right to score Larry Bowa; Keith Moreland scored Sandberg on a bunt single in the third; and Matthews scored on a Jody Davis double-play in the fifth.
The game is best remembered for Sutcliffe’s utter dominance. He was in control the whole game, fanning nine batters and walking none to pick up his 20th win of the season. Aside from a Joe Orsulak triple in the bottom of the fourth—he’d later score on a groundout—no Pirate reached second base for the duration of the game.
Sutcliffe picked up 16 wins—and an NL Cy Young Award—as a member of the Cubs in 1984 after being dealt from Cleveland in June.
The postseason run lasted another week, with the North Side falling to San Diego in five games in the National League Division Series.