Chicago Cubs: How the Jhonny Peralta Game changed this team


A fateful day in early July featured a heartbreaking loss for the Chicago Cubs at home and had countless implications for the club moving forward.

Sitting in the right-center field bleachers, ready to erupt after an impending Cubs’ win of the hated Cards, I heard the crack of the bat and watched the line drive off the bat of Jhonny Peralta sail into the left-field seats, sucking the air out of Wrigley Field instantaneously.

It was easily the most emotional experience I’d ever had at the Confines – after Miguel Montero cleared the bases with a double that bounced off the wall right in front of us, sending Wrigley into a furious fit of pure excitement and ecstasy; the homer was the exact opposite, giving me the full range of highs-and-lows.

Now, don’t get me wrong: the All-Star Break was just over a week away and after that, the Chicago Cubs went on a year – finishing the year with 97 wins before ultimately dispatching both the Pittsburgh Pirates and the 100-win Cardinals in the postseason.

But, in my mind, a lot changed for the Cubs that night.

No matter how much potential a team has, in my opinion, you have to experience some truly gut-wrenching losses to understand what it’s like and how to respond in the future. This was one of those games.

Another came later on in the season, when the Philadelphia Phillies’ Cole Hamels no-hit Chicago, ending the team’s decades-long streak of avoiding being on the wrong side of history and leading to fans’ questioning of the team and their capabilities (for whatever reason).

So did the Cubs learn from the Peralta Game?


With a team this young, Joe Maddon excels in keeping the team light and relaxed, while also teaching them valuable lessons along the way. While they didn’t respond all that well to the loss on July 8 (they lost two-of-three to the White Sox to close out the first-half), they got the experience under their belts – and moved forward.

When they hit that next wall in Hamels’ no-no, they went .500 over the next four games, before running off winning streaks of four or more games on three different occasions over the next month.

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After dropping the opener of the Divison Series to St. Louis earlier this month, the Cubs ran off three-straight wins to take their first postseason series since 2003 – and now, in a 2-0 hole in the best-of-seven NLCS, their backs are nearly against the wall once again.

While the lessons learned by the Cubs in games like this are invaluable this time of year, the biggest impact that July 8 contest had on the team’s postseason run was the injury that struck Jason Hammel early-on that night, causing him to leave the game after just one inning of work.

Prior to the All-Star Break, the veteran right-hander was outstanding, giving the Chicago Cubs a more than reputable number three starter behind Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. However, post-Midsummer Classic, Hammel saw his earned run average spike to 5.10 from a sub-3.00 mark.

More importantly, his starts required more and more from the Chicago bullpen: after the injury, Hammel pitched into the seventh inning in just one start – prior to the All-Star Game, he did so 10 times.

So with the Cubs looking at pulling to 2-1 in Game 3, all could be forgiven and valuable lessons from a night back in early July could pay dividends for Joe Maddon’s club – especially Jason Hammel.

Next: Now is not the time to panic, Cubs fans. Relax.