Johnny Bench: Can anything stop the Cubs?
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Johnny Bench: Can anything stop the Cubs?
Friday July 1st, 2016

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With the Cubs on pace for a historically significant number of wins this season, we are tracking their progress against 10 of the winningest teams in major league history. This week’s check in comes at the 78-game mark (excluding ties). Seven games have been played by each team since last week’s initial standings. As a reminder, here are the 10 teams and where they finished their respective seasons:

Team Record PCT Result
1906 Cubs 116–36 .763 Lost World Series
2001 Mariners 116–46 .716 Lost ALCS
1998 Yankees 114–48 .704 Won World Series
1954 Indians 111–43 .721 Lost World Series
1909 Pirates 110–42 .724 Won World Series
1927 Yankees 110–44 .714 Won World Series
1961 Yankees 109–53 .673 Won World Series
1969 Orioles 109–53 .673 Lost World Series
1975 Reds 108–54 .667 Won World Series
1986 Mets 108–54 .667 Won World Series

NOTE: Postseason results were not a factor in the selection or ranking of the teams.

  • 1
    11998 Yankees
    last week: 3
    record: 58-20 (.744), +154 run differential
    The Yankees wrapped up their interleague slate in Game 78 by completing a three-game sweep of the Phillies on July 2. Tino Martinez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth to tie the game, and New York won it in the 11th on a Ricky Ledee single. The Yankees dominated their National League opponents in '98, the second year of interleague play, going 13-3 against the NL East including a 6-1 mark against the Braves, Mets and Phillies over the previous week.

  • 2
    22001 Mariners
    last week: 1
    record: 57-21 (.731), +132
    Even 116-win teams can hit rough-patches. Seattle went 3-4 from Games 72 through 78, part of a 5-7 stretch. But despite that brief bit of mediocrity, which included a 2-4 homestand against AL West rivals the Angels and A's, the Mariners still came out of it with an 18-game lead in the division. They stretched that advantage to 19 games with a 9-5 win in Anaheim, kickstarted by a six-run first inning, that began a 10-game road trip on June 29.

  • 3
    31909 Pirates
    last week: 4
    record: 57-21 (.731), +108
    In the midst of a 16-game East Coast swing, the Pirates went 5-2 during the week. They split a July 12 doubleheader with the Giants at the Polo Grounds, then took two of three in Brooklyn before winning the first two games of a four-game series against the Phillies at the Baker Bowl.

  • 4
    41927 Yankees
    last week: 5
    record: 56-22 (.718), +218
    The Yankees went 5-2 over the last week, taking three of four from the Senators then two of their first three games in a six-game series against the Tigers in Detroit. More significant for New York than the wins, however, was its offensive production. The Yankees’ first two victories over Washington came by scores of 12-1 and 21-1, respectively, and after plating 15 runs and going 1-1 in their next two outings, the Bronx Bombers beat the Tigers 10-8 and 19-7. In that last game Babe Ruth went 5-for-6 with two doubles and two home runs, setting career highs with seven RBIs and 13 total bases. In all, it was the highest-scoring stretch of the year for the legendary team known as Murderer’s Row.

  • 5
    51969 orioles
    last week: 2
    record: 55-23 (.705), +163
    Baltimore took three of four from the defending world champion Tigers over the last week, capping the series with a walk-off win on June 29 thanks to a ninth-inning single from Frank Robinson. From there, the Orioles headed to New York, where they lost both games in a two-game series to the middling Yankees. In the opener on July 1, Baltimore jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first but still lost 10-9, despite Boog Powell’s 4-for-5, two-home-run, seven-RBI day. In the finale, they dropped another one-run decision, falling 3-2 to New York ace Mel Stottlemyre.

  • 6
    61954 Indians
    last week: 5
    record: 55-23 (.705), +114

    Cleveland’s only loss in a 12-game stretch came in the nightcap of a July 5 doubleheader against the Tigers in Detroit. That game was a scoreless duel between Detroit’s George Zuverink and Cleveland rookie Don Mossi, who was making just his second major league start and pitching on one day’s rest after a two-inning relief appearance. Both men pitched into the 11th, but with one out in the bottom of that inning, Tigers shortstop Harvey Kuenn, the previous season’s Rookie of the Year, hit a one-out walkoff home run off Mossi to snap Cleveland’s eight-game winning streak. The Indians then beat the Orioles by a combined score of 17-4 over the next two days. .

  • 7
    71986 Mets
    last week: 7
    record: 55-23 (.705), +108
    After completing a sweep of the Cardinals in St. Louis, the Mets came home to take three of four from the Astros, conveniently avoiding eventual NL Cy Young Award winner Mike Scott. The highlight of the series was the opener on July 3, in which Houston took a 5-3 lead on a two-run, pinch-hit homer by Phil Garner in the top of the 10th. In the bottom half, however, New York's Darryl Strawberry answered with his own two-run shot to tie the game, and two batters later, Ray Knight hit a walk-off home run to leftfield. The next day, Dwight Gooden outdueled Nolan Ryan in a 2-1 win at Shea Stadium, a matchup that would be replicated three months later in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.

  • 8
    81906 cubs
    last week: 6
    record: 54-24 (.692), +144
    The Cubs went 4-3 over the last week, dropping two of the last three games of a six-game set against the Pirates, the last game of which saw the series move to Chicago’s West Side Grounds. The Cubs them took three of four at home from the Braves, increasing their lead over the second-place Giants to five games for the first time all season.

  • 9
    92016 Cubs
    last week: 9
    record: 51-27 (.654), +169

    After losing six of seven to the wild-card contending Cardinals and Marlins, the Cubs saved some face with a three-game sweep of the lowly Reds in Cincinnati. However, they lost the opener of their four-game weekend series at New York’s Citi Field on Thursday night, leaving them tied with the Rangers for the most wins in baseball and on pace for "only" 106 wins. Still, Chicago managed a winning record over the last week, going 4-3, and its NL Central lead actually grew to 11 games, up from 9 ½ at last week’s check-in. There’s more good news: Outfielder Dexter Fowler will be eligible to return from the disabled list on Monday.

  • 10
    101975 Reds
    last week: 10
    record: 50-28 (.641), +122
    The Reds went 6-1 in the last week with four of their wins coming via extra-inning walkoffs. On June 27, Dan Driessen won the opening game of their homestand with a three-run homer in the bottom of the 11th off Padres reliever Danny Frisella. The next day, George Foster did the honors with a pinch-hit two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th. On June 30 against the Astros, Johnny Bench ended the series opener with a three-run homer off Joe Niekro in the bottom of the 12th. The next night, Cincinnati came from three down in the bottom of the ninth to tie the score at 7-7, then won the game in the 15th on Joe Morgan single that scored Pete Rose.

  • 11
    111961 yankees
    last week: 11
    record: 50-28 (.641), +109
    Despite a 6-1 run from Games 72 through 78, the Yankees continue to trail the Tigers in the American League standings, and New York has yet to spend a single day alone in first place alone all season. The Yankees briefly caught Detroit atop the standings when they took the opener of a July 4 doubleheader at Yankee Stadium, winning 6-2 behind Whitey Ford. But after tying the nightcap in the eighth inning on Roger Maris’s 31st home run of the year, they fell behind again in the ninth when Tigers’ pinch-runner Chico Fernandez stole home as part of a triple steal. New York tied it once more in the bottom half but had no answer after Detroit went ahead in the 10th, losing 4-3 and falling back into second place.


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