Just a reminder of where the baseball world was at that time. The two time defending World Series Champions were the New York Yankees, who had beat the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second straight season. The Yankees would suffer a big loss this season as their captain, Thurman Munson, would die in a plane crash in August of this year. The Pittsburgh Pirates would defeat the Baltimore Orioles in this season's fall classic in a rematch of the 1971 WS. The Phillies and Cubs would finish the season 4th and 5th place, respectively in the NL East. The Phillies would see their streak of 3 straight NL East titles end as well as change managers from Danny Ozark to Dallas Green. Cubs manager Herman Franks would also be replaced that season behind the bench. Joey Amalfitano, who would later join Tommy Lasorda's coaching staff for several years, would take over for Franks with 7 games to go in the 1979 season. Franks would never manage in the big leagues again while Ozark would finish off the 1984 season behind the bench for the San Francisco Giants.
The most well documented part of this game was the fact that the wind was blowing out at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The game did not get off to the best of starts as the Phillies scored 7 runs in the first inning of Cubs starter Dennis Lamp, knocking him out of the game. Mike Schmidt and Bob Boone homered off Lamp, with Phillies starting pitcher Randy Lerch homering off Donnie Moore (yes, that Donnie Moore) to cap the scoring. The Cubs rallied, though, and scored 6 of their own in the bottom of the inning, ending Lerch's night. Dave Kingman would hit a 3 run HR, while Moore would partially redeem himself with an RBI triple of reliever Doug Bird. Amazingly, even with 7 and 6 runs scored, respectively, each team sent just 10 men to the plate.
The second inning would go mysteriously scoreless for both teams. Philadelphia was back at it in the 3rd. RBI singles by Boone and Bake McBride made the game 9-6 and a 2 run Pete Rose 2B chased Moore. Willie Hernandez, another 1980s dominant closer, would give up a run on a groundout and then a 3 run HR by Garry Maddox, making it 15-6 Phillies.
The Cubs would strand a single in the 3rd, sending the Phillies back to bat in the 4th. RBI doubles by Rose and Maddox made it 17-6. The game had to be over at this point, right? In the bottom of the 4th, Kingman hits his 2nd HR of the game, a 2 run shot and 3B Steve Ontiveros follows with a solo blast making it 17-9. Both HRs came off Bird, who was still in the game. Hernandez was still on the ropes in the 5th inning as a Larry Bowa 2B gave the Phillies another run. However, the Phillies scored their next 3 runs off an error and 2 sacrifice flies. It still made the game 21-9, giving the Phillies their second lead of 11 runs or more of the game.
Phillies manager Ozark decided it was time to go to his closer, Tug McGraw, in the bottom of the 5th inning. You can trust your closer to protect a 12 run lead, right? Not in this game. The Cubs quickly filled the bases and after a bases loaded walk, Bill Buckner hits a grand slam, bringing the Bears closer to the Eagles, 21-13. CF Jerry Martin hit a 3 run HR and after catcher Barry Foote doubled, McGraw's day was done after recording just two outs.
After Ron Reed came in and got the last out for the Phillies, Cubs reliever Bill Caudill got himself out of a jam in the top of the 6th. It was the first time since the 2nd inning that Philadelphia did not score. The Cubs were back at in their half of the 6th. A single and double started the inning, with the Cubs scoring runs on consecutive ground outs. Reed had two outs and nobody on, but up comes Kingman to hit his 3rd HR of the game and all of the sudden the game was 21-19. Without checking the records, I would find it hard to see two teams scoring 40 runs in the first 6 innings of the game. For the pace of this game, the last 3 innings (plus the 10th) were kind of boring.
The Phillies would add themselves a run in the 7th with an RBI double by Boone, making it 22-19. Reed gets a double play ball to get himself out of the bottom of the inning unscaved. Cubs reliever Ray Burris comes into the 8th, giving up a Rose leadoff single but retiring the next three to get out of the inning. Reed is left in the game for the Phillies in the bottom of the 8th. The Cubs once again break through, as RBI singles by Buckner, Martin and Foote tie up the game.
The Cubs go to their closer, Bruce Sutter, to pitch the 9th. Sutter would give up a walk, but no runs as the Phillies failed to score. Rawly Eastwick came in to pitch for the Phillies in the bottom of the 9th. Eastwick would do what no other pitcher was able to do to that point, get a 1-2-3 inning. Sutter comes back out for the 10th, retiring Bowa and Rose with ease. Then Schmidt hits a solo HR (2nd of the game) to give the Phillies the lead again. Eastwick comes back out and gets another 1-2-3 inning to preserve the game. Final score: Phillies 23, Cubs 22, 10 innings, WP- Eastwick LP- Sutter.
Outside of the score, what impressed me the most was the well known relievers that were used throughout the game. The Cubs used Moore, Hernandez and Sutter, while the Phillies had McGraw; with Moore, Hernandez (the eventual 1984 AL Cy Young Winner) and McGraw all looking like minor league pitchers, at least for the day. They pitched a combined 5 1/3 IP and gave up a total of 22 runs, 17 ER! Veterans like Tim McCarver, Bobby Murcer, Mike Vail and Greg Luzinski all came off the bench, with Bud Harrelson not getting in this game. As far as a regular season game goes, it was certainly one of the most exciting games one will ever see. A total of 11 HRs were hit in this game, 5 by the Phillies (2 by Schmidt, Boone, Maddox and Lerch) and 6 by the Cubs (3 by Kingman, Buckner, Martin and Ontiveros). 45 runs, 50 hits, 10 2Bs and 2 3Bs, 15 walks to go with just 11 strikeouts.