10/12/2003 12:55 AM ET
Cubs, Marlins set NLCS marks
Teams combine to tie, break offensive records
MIAMI -- Saturday's crowd of 65,829 at Pro Player Stadium was the largest ever to watch a National League Championship Series game, and that only seemed appropriate on this night. One offensive record after another was either broken or matched in Game 4 of the NLCS, and a Chicago Cubs team now on the brink of a World Series continued to provide most of the historic footnotes.
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
Everything these days is starting with Kenny Lofton, so you might as well start there. He scored two more runs and now has seven in the series -- tying the Cubs' postseason series record set by Phil Cavarretta in the 1945 World Series. Lofton has reached base and scored in his first at-bat of three of the four games, including the latest one, and he is now one away from matching the NLCS record.
"You've got to score runs to win -- that's the bottom line," Lofton said after the game. Pardon any cliches, because this is someone who just boils the game down to simplicity. "The bottom line for me is to try to score as early as I can and put pressure on the other team. We have the guys who drive in those runs."
That includes his cohort in that midseason trade from Pittsburgh, Aramis Ramirez. His first-inning grand slam was the first postseason salami in Cubs history, and his two homers gave the club 10 in this series to break the NLCS record shared by the 1984 Cubs and 1987 Giants. Ramirez's six RBIs tied Will Clark's 1989 record set with San Francisco for most in a single NLCS game. Ramirez's 10 career RBIs in postseason play set a Cubs record, one more than Wildfire Schulte.
With those two home runs, Chicago and Florida have combined for an NLCS-record 16 in the series. It remains to be seen whether these clubs will have enough time left to match the Major League record for combined home runs in any postseason series. Junior Griffey's Seattle Mariners and Don Mattingly's New York Yankees each swatted 11 during that memorable 1995 American League Division Series.
"We have power, no doubt about it," Ramirez said. "We've got a lot of guys who can hit the ball out of the park." Asked why this team has been able to score in the first inning so often all of this postseason, he replied: "I think the key is our leadoff guys in Kenny and Mark (Grudzielanek). They've been great. And Sammy (Sosa) and Mo (Alou) are our strength. And I think we have done it so far."
Ramirez now has three homers in the NLCS, sharing the club lead with Alex Gonzalez. Sosa has two homers, and Alou and Randall Simon each have gone yard once. The Marlins have six home runs -- twice by Miguel Cabrera and once each by Juan Encarnacion, Derrek Lee, Mike Lowell and Ivan Rodriguez. Half of that total came in that third inning of Game 1, helping the Fish make a dramatic comeback that would lead to their only victory so far in this series.
Ramirez's grand slam in Game 4 was the seventh in NLCS history. It came five years to the day after the last one, by Andres Galarraga of Atlanta. Ramirez also became the seventh player in NLCS history to have four RBIs in an inning, with Galarraga the last to do it in the seventh inning of that 1998 series.
With all of this offense, particularly on the Cubs' side, it is no wonder that third-base coach Wendell Kim has been just a bit busy waving in runners and providing the obligatory butt-slaps during home run trots. Kim has the best view of anyone, and he had an especially interesting view of the Lofton and Ramirez record-making efforts.
Regarding Lofton, Kim said: "When it comes to playoffs, Kenny is always in the thick of things. I think he's a little hurt, but he doesn't say anything. Just wear and tear. He's a key guy." Regarding the big night Ramirez had, Kim harkened back to those days in 1989 when he and current Cubs manager Dusty Baker were coaches on Roger Craig's Giants staff -- in the NLCS in which they knocked off these Cubs.
"We've got different ballparks than you had then, with Candlestick Park," Kim said. "When the wind's blowing out in Chicago, almost anybody can get 'em out of here. It makes a bit of a difference.
"I have a vivid memory of Will Clark in that series. His first game in Chicago, Will tore it up, hitting a grand slam off (Greg) Maddux, then the next day (Mark) Grace had a big game. I remember that Will was at the ballpark early in the morning of Game 5. He was watching video on the wall, looking at "Wild Thing" (Cubs closer Mitch Williams) over and over. Williams threw him six pitches with the bases loaded, and when Will got the hit that won the series, he knew exactly what kind of pitch he was going to get."
Clark scored eight runs in those five games, and shares the NLCS record with Timo Perez (2000 with the Mets, five games) and Javy Lopez (1996 with Atlanta, seven games). Lofton is just one away from a share of that record. He is batting a cool .500 (9-for-18), and thanks largely to him, the Cubs now have outscored the Marlins, 11-0, in the first inning of this NLCS record. That is one shy of the NLCS record for first-inning runs, set by the Mets in 2000 (five games) and the Braves in 1996 (seven).
The Mets did all that early damage against the Cardinals on their way to a World Series. In each of the first two games at Busch Stadium, New York led off the first with two runs. In Game 3, the Mets gave up two in the top of the first but scored once in the bottom half. Those Mets then scored four in the bottom of the first at Shea in Game 4, and three in the next game's first inning to clinch a berth against the Yanks in a Subway Series. Could history repeat itself for the Cubs, with the Yankees currently leading the other series?
Marlins fans, with help from that ever-present Cubs contingent, even added to the record books Saturday night. The crowd broke the NLCS single-game record of 65,476 that had been set on Oct. 8, 1980, when fans at Veterans Stadium watched the Phillies work their way toward their only world championship by winning at home against Houston.
In that same 1980 series, Houston set a still-standing record of five triples in an NLCS series. The Cubs need just one more to tie that, but they have combined with the Marlins to already tie the NLCS record with six.
Mark Newman is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.