Chicago Cubs: The June 3, 1987 blowout of the Astros was magical

Chicago Cubs (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

On this day in 1987, the Chicago Cubs thumped Houston for 22 runs with 8 coming from grand slams.

The 1987 Chicago Cubs were an interesting team in that they had plenty of talented players and interesting stories to tell despite finishing dead last in their division. Andre Dawson won an MVP award with arguably his best career performance, Rick Sutcliffe finished second in Cy Young voting, and the Cubs put up a crooked number in one of the most historic displays of power in MLB history.

On June 3, the Cubs showed up at Wrigley Field with a winning record of 29-21 and looking to claim a spot atop the NL East. On the other side, the Houston Astros were middling at a mere 25-26 record, yet would end up with a similar record to the Cubs by the end of the year. Judging by this game, however, you would never guess that these two teams would be remotely close.

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It all began with a bang. The Cubs thumped the Astros with a nine-spot in the first with a grand slam from Brian Dayett to immediately put Houston in a deep hole. Ryne Sandberg and Keith Moreland also homered in the first, giving the Astros a truly horrific start as pitcher Bob Knepper only got to throw for one inning. Dayett’s grand slam was his third home run off of Knepper and fourth of his season to that point, making it even more excruciating for Houston’s starter.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, Sutcliffe struggled that day, surrendering seven runs of his own including, you guessed it, a grand slam to Billy Hatcher. It didn’t really matter though as they proceeded to score in every other inning aside from the eighth and ninth and hit three more home runs including Dawson’s nineteenth of the season and a third grand slam which set the record for most grand slams in a single game in the National League.

Perhaps the biggest star of the game was Moreland who hit that second grand slam along with his other home run in the first. Moreland had a solid career with the Cubs, but this is one of his defining moments with the team as he put up seven RBI and nine total bases in a public humiliation of the Astros. This was truly a team effort though, as no other Cubs tallied more than 4 RBI of the 22 runs scored.

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Despite the overall disappointing season given the talent on the roster, the 1987 Chicago Cubs gave fans a lot to cheer about and this game was no exception. Aside from Sutcliffe, everybody on the team got to join in the fun from pinch hitter Jim Sundberg whose one at-bat resulted in a home run to fan-favorite Bobby Dernier who torched Houston with three singles to set up his teammates. This was just a really dominating game by the Cubs that completely flew in the face of Houston manager Hal Lanier’s “Say No to Home Runs” motto.