Montgomery traded, but place in Cubs history secure
It took 108 years for the Cubs to end their championship drought, so the final play of that 2016 World Series won’t be forgotten any time soon.
Mike Montgomery, who at that point had no saves in his big league career, got Michael Martinez to hit a weak grounder for the last out of Game 7 in Cleveland. Chicago won 8-7 in 10 innings.
Montgomery was traded to Kansas City this past week in a deal that sent Martin Maldonado to the Cubs, closing the book on the left-hander’s stint in Chicago. Although he hasn’t had a very effective 2019 season, Montgomery’s place in Cubs lore is secure because of his contribution to the title team.
He’s also part of an interesting bit of trivia. No, it’s not about who threw the last pitch of the 2016 World Series. This goes back much further.
The Society for American Baseball Research defines a “Golden Pitch” as any time the pitching team and the hitting team both have a chance to win the World Series on a given pitch. It’s obviously rare. It requires a winner-take-all game at the end of the World Series. The home team has to be trailing and down to its last at-bat, with the winning run either batting or on base.
Montgomery’s situation qualified, because the Indians had a man on first, and a home run by Martinez would have flipped the outcome. According to SABR, Montgomery was the eighth pitcher to throw a Golden Pitch: The others were Christy Mathewson (1912), Pete Alexander (1926), Ralph Terry (1962), Rollie Fingers (1972), Jose Mesa (1997), Mariano Rivera (2001) and Madison Bumgarner (2014).
Two of the most revered pitchers on that list — Mathewson and Rivera — actually failed to finish off the victory when they threw their Golden Pitches. The Giants and Yankees gave up the lead and lost in 1912 and 2001 to the Red Sox and Diamondbacks.
It’s also worth noting that no batter has ever won the World Series on a Golden Pitch. That would require the tying and winning runs to score on the same pitch, and that’s never happened in a winner-take-all World Series game. (In 2001, for example, Rivera allowed the tying hit to Arizona’s Tony Womack on a Golden Pitch, but once the game was tied, it was no longer a Golden Pitch situation when Luis Gonzalez came through with the winning hit.)
Elsewhere around the majors:
Colorado made the postseason last year, but a return trip is looking more and more unlikely. The Rockies are tied for last place in the NL West, and although they’re only five games behind the second wild card, they’ve lost 18 of their last 25 games. This poor stretch began when Colorado lost three straight games to the Dodgers on walk-off homers last month.
The Rockies had a respectable 4.33 team ERA last year, but that’s ballooned to 5.52 in 2019, easily the worst mark in the National League.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. clearly has a world of potential, and while his production has fallen short of some of the hype this season, he showed off his prodigious power Saturday night with his first career grand slam. It came at a good time too, with his Toronto Blue Jays trailing Detroit by four runs. The Blue Jays went on to win 7-5.
Guerrero’s homer didn’t come at home, but there were plenty of Toronto fans at Comerica Park in Detroit, which is just a few blocks from the Canadian border.
LINE OF THE WEEK
San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford had five hits, including two homers, and drove in eight runs in a 19-2 win over Colorado on Monday. That was actually the first game of a doubleheader. Crawford homered again in the nightcap.
Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister