An Underrated Game in Cubs History — 9/12/98 vs. Milwaukee

Orlando Merced batting in a tie game. Was he the hero? Find out!

By: Alex Patt

9/12/98 — Wrigley Field. Cubs vs. Brewers.

The Chicago Cubs were in a tight wild card race with the Mets and Giants in 1998. Sammy Sosa was capturing the attention of the sports world as he battled Mark McGwire in the home run race, bringing excitement back to baseball. The Cubs knew they had to keep wining to have a chance at the postseason as they welcomed in the pesky Milwaukee Brewers for a weekend series.

While the Brewers were not a contending team, but they were incredibly irritating with the firepower they had in their lineup. Cub-killer Jeromy Burnitz, Fernando Vina and Mark Loretta were the notable Brewer names in 1998. They had nothing to play for, but be the spoiler.

On a bright Saturday afternoon, the Cubs defeated the Brewers in a thriller. A game that, if lost, they don’t end up making the postseason because the wild card race ended up being tied after 162 games. Rafael Rogue took the hill for the Brewers as the Cubs sent out veteran Mike Morgan. Considering the final score, these names would be forgotten in the box score. Sammy Sosa had 59 home runs going into the game.

Cubs took a 2–0 lead on a Mickey Morandini RBI single in 2nd inning, but they would soon see their lead turn into an 8–2 deficit in the top of the 3rd. Burnitz hit another home run in the inning. Two more Brewer runs scored on a Vina single in the fifth as the deficit grew to 10–2. But the game was far from over.

Home runs from Jose Hernandez and Gary Gaetti made it 10–5, but the Brewers made it 12–5 as Vina drove in another run in the top of the 7th. Bottom of the inning, enter Sammy Sosa. With two men on, Sosa smashed a drive down the left field line that went over the bleachers and hit the door of the old house on Waveland Avenue to make it 12–8. His 60th on the season, only the fourth person ever to hit 60 in one season. Glenallen Hill hit a solo shot right after to make it 12–9.

Sammy Sosa watches #60 leave Wrigley Field

After Felix Heredia pitched a scoreless top of the 8th, catcher Tyler Houston hit a solo jack to deep right-center to make it a 12–10 ballgame. Terry Mulholland and Rod Beck collectively pitched a scoreless top of the 9th, as the Cubs were down to their final three outs trailing by two.

The Brewers sent out closer Bob Wickman to close it down, but the Cubs had other plans. Sosa and Hill hit back-to-back singles to start the inning. After Gaetti laid down a sacrifice bunt, Morandini walked. Bases-loaded with one away. Houston singled to tie the game up at 12, setting up pinch-hitter Orlando Merced.

The veteran was picked up on September 5th and batted with the winning run 90 feet away and just needed a flyball to win the game. He swung and hit a flyball that traveled into the right-center bleachers. Cubs win 15–12 and the place goes bananas.

Cubs mob Merced as they win a crucial game in September.

The epic story would only get bigger the next day when Sosa hit home runs #61 and #62 in another epic comeback win. A very big set of games in Chicago Cubs history.

Alex Patt has been a contributor at Wrigley rapport since 2016. He is an aspiring broadcaster who also contributes for Fansided Cubbies Crib, FPS Bears, Blasting News, Windy City Chronicle, Swerski Sport talk Chicago and SportsSanity BTR. You can follow him on Twitter @chifanpatt1