The Cubs are a hit
By Freddy Berowski
On Tuesday, the Cubs got off to a great start, connecting for eight straight hits off Pirates ace Zach Duke. While most of the balls were not hit particularly hard, they managed to find the right landing spots.
As Cubs leadoff batter Ryan Theriot put it, “The ball was bouncing our way and it was in our favor in the first inning for sure.”
With those eight hits, the Cubs tied the major league record for consecutive hits for a team at the start of their half of the first inning, a mark that they established on April 21, 1973 – ironically, against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Six times since, a major league team has matched this mark.
The seven-run first inning on Tuesday was all the Cubs would need as they cruised to a 9-4 victory, but it wasn’t that easy for them back in ’73. Future Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins started for the Cubs at home and the Pirates jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. The Cubs bounced back in their half of the first with eight straight hits, including one by another future Hall of Famer, Billy Williams, chasing Pirates starter Nelson Briles before he could even record an out. But Fergie didn’t fare that well either.
Despite having six straight 20 win seasons under his belt, Jenkins hadn’t beaten the Pirates in his previous seven starts against them, and had only three wins in his previous 15 games against them. Fergie lamented after the game, “Guess some clubs gotta have your number.” Fergie was pulled after just 4 1/3 innings, and didn’t factor in the decision. The Cubs would hang on for a 10-9 victory.
Other teams to match the mark established by the Cubs were the 1975 Phillies with future Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, the 1975 Pirates featuring future Hall of Famer Willie Stargell, the 1981 Athletics lead by future Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson and the 1990 Yankees.
Freddy Berowski is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.