2003 Chicago Cubs season
The 2003 Chicago Cubs season was the 132nd season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 128th in the National League and the 88th at Wrigley Field. The Cubs were managed by Dusty Baker in his first year in Chicago. The Cubs went 88–74 during the 2003 season and won the National League Central Division for the first time since the division's formation in 1994, and the team's first division title since its 1989 NL East title. In the National League Division Series, the Cubs defeated the Atlanta Braves three games to two for their first postseason series win since 1908. The Cubs lost to the Florida Marlins four games to three in the National League Championship Series.
|2003 Chicago Cubs|
|National League Central Champions|
|Major League affiliations|
|General manager(s)||Jim Hendry|
|Local television||FSN Chicago|
(Chip Caray, Steve Stone)
|Local radio||WGN |
(Pat Hughes, Ron Santo)
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The Cubs were coming off of a poor year in 2002, finishing 67–95 in fifth place in the NL Central and costing manager Don Baylor his job. The Cubs hired Dusty Baker, fresh off his World Series appearance with the San Francisco Giants, to replace Baylor.
- December 4, 2002: Todd Hundley and Chad Hermansen were traded by the Cubs to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Mark Grudzielanek and Eric Karros.
- January 13, 2003: Midre Cummings was signed as a free agent with the Cubs.
- January 13, 2003: Aaron Small was signed as a free agent with the Cubs.
- March 4, 2003: Trenidad Hubbard was signed as a free agent with the Cubs.
- March 29, 2003: Aaron Small was released by the Cubs.
The team's success can be attributed first and foremost to its starting rotation, which featured Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano, and Matt Clement, each of whom won at least 13 games. The pitching staff as a whole led the National League in strikeouts with 1,404, over 100 more than any other team. While not nearly as dominant in hitting, the Cubs' lineup was bolstered by acquisitions at what was a very active trade deadline, including Aramis Ramírez, Randall Simon, and Kenny Lofton.
The team started slow but finished September with a 19–8 record to win the NL Central. As the division winner with the third best record, the Cubs faced the Atlanta Braves who had finished the season in a tie for the best record in the majors in a best of five games format. The Cubs won the first game of the series and the teams alternated wins leading to a game 5 at Turner Field to determine the series winner. The Cubs won the game 5–1.
The series win, their first since 1945, resulted in a matchup against the Florida Marlins for the right to go to the World Series. The Marlins won the first game in Chicago, but the Cubs won the next three to take a three games to one lead. Florida won game five as the series shifted back to Chicago for games six and seven. With Mark Prior on the mound, the Cubs took a 3–1 lead into the 8th inning before a series of errors led to an 8 run inning for the Marlins. The win forced a game seven with Kerry Wood on the mound for the Cubs. In a high-scoring affair that included a Kerry Wood home run, the Marlins shocked the Cubs 9–6 to deny the Cubs a trip to their first World Series since 1945.
The 2003 season brought a great deal of national attention to the Cubs, both positive and negative. On one hand, their surprising regular season run to first place in the NL Central, and the excellent performances of their top three pitchers, all of whom were age 26 or younger, seemed to suggest that the Cubs would be contenders for the foreseeable future. At the same time, however, the Cubs' squandering of the 3-1 series lead in the NLCS, and the manner in which it occurred, seemed to reaffirm the perceptions of the Cubs as "lovable losers" and a cursed franchise.
National League CentralEdit
|St. Louis Cardinals||85||77||0.525||3||48–33||37–44|
Record vs. opponentsEdit
2003 National League Records
- April 21, 2003: Trenidad Hubbard was purchased by the Cubs from Oaxaca (Mexican League).
- May 9, 2003: Alan Benes was sent to the Texas Rangers by the Cubs as part of a conditional deal.
- June 3, 2003: Sam Fuld was drafted by the Cubs in the 24th round of the 2003 amateur draft, but did not sign.
- June 3, 2003: Tim Lincecum was drafted by the Cubs in the 48th round of the 2003 amateur draft, but did not sign.
- June 20, 2003: Mark Bellhorn was traded by the Cubs to the Colorado Rockies for José Hernández.
- July 23, 2003: Kenny Lofton and Aramis Ramírez were traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates with cash to the Cubs for a player to be named later, José Hernández, and Matt Bruback. The Cubs sent Bobby Hill (August 15, 2003) to the Pirates to complete the trade.
- August 17, 2003: Randall Simon was traded by the Pirates to the Cubs for Ray Sadler.
|2003 Chicago Cubs|
|2003 Game Log: 88–74|
Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; R = Runs; H = Hits; 2B = Doubles; 3B = Triples; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in; BB = Walks; SO = Strikeouts; Avg. = Batting average; OBP = On Base Percentage; SLG = Slugging Percentage; SB = Stolen bases
Note: W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; G = Games pitched; GS = Games started; SV = Saves; IP = Innings pitched; R = Runs allowed; ER = Earned runs allowed; BB = Walks allowed; K = Strikeouts
Atlanta Braves vs. Chicago Cubs
Game 1 – Chicago 4, Atlanta 2Edit
Game 2 – Atlanta 5, Chicago 3Edit
Game 3 – Chicago 3, Atlanta 1Edit
Game 4 – Atlanta 6, Chicago 4Edit
Game 5 – Chicago 5, Atlanta 1Edit
|WP: Ugueth Urbina (1-0) LP: Mark Guthrie (0-1) Sv: Braden Looper (1)|
Fla: I. Rodríguez (1), M. Cabrera (1), J. Encarnación (1), M. Lowell (1)
ChC: M. Alou (1), A. Gonzalez (1), S. Sosa (1)
|WP: Mark Prior (1-0) LP: Brad Penny (0-1)|
Fla: D. Lee (1), M. Cabrera (2)
ChC: S. Sosa (2), A. Ramírez (1), A. Gonzalez 2 (3)
|WP: Joe Borowski (1-0) LP: Michael Tejera (0-1) Sv: Mike Remlinger (1)|
ChC: Randall Simon (1)
|WP: Matt Clement (1-0) LP: Dontrelle Willis (0-1)|
ChC: Aramis Ramírez (2)
With the Marlins facing elimination, Josh Beckett kept them alive by dominating the Cubs, holding them to just two hits and one walk as part of his standout 2003 postseason. The game was scoreless until the sixth inning when Mike Lowell hit a two-run homer. Iván Rodríguez and Jeff Conine homered in the seventh and eighth innings respectively. Even with the loss, the Cubs looked good going back home with their two aces, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood ready to start Games 6 and 7.
|WP: Josh Beckett (1-0) LP: Carlos Zambrano (0-1)|
Fla: Mike Lowell (2), Iván Rodríguez (2), Jeff Conine (1)
The Cubs held a 3-0 lead going into the top of the eighth inning in Game 6 and, after Mike Mordecai hit a high pop fly to left field for the first out of the inning, had only two outs left in the inning—leaving the team a mere 5 outs away from their first World Series berth since 1945.
On the eighth pitch of his at bat, Luis Castillo hit a high foul ball toward the left field wall. Cubs left fielder Moisés Alou headed toward the stands to catch the ball for the potential second out. As Alou reached for the ball, Cubs fan Steve Bartman, along with others near the area, did the same. The ball bounced off Bartman's hand and into the stands. Though the Cubs pleaded for a call of fan interference, the umpire ruled that the ball had left the field of play and was therefore up for grabs. Alou initially acknowledged that he would not have made the catch though he later denied making such a statement and said if he had, it was only to make him feel better.
As a result, Castillo remained an active batter at home plate. On the next pitch, Prior walked Castillo on a wild pitch that got away from catcher Paul Bako, also allowing Pierre to advance to third base.
Next, Iván Rodríguez hit an 0-2 pitch hard into left field, singling and scoring Pierre. Miguel Cabrera then hit a ground ball toward Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez that could have ended the inning on a double play. Gonzalez, who led all NL shortstops in fielding percentage, closed his glove a little too early and the ball landed in the dirt, allowing Cabrera to get on base, loading the bases. On the next pitch, Derrek Lee (a future Cubs' All-Star) drilled a double into left field, scoring Castillo and Rodríguez to tie the game at 3-3.
Prior was then taken out of the game and replaced by Kyle Farnsworth, who intentionally walked Mike Lowell to load the bases. Jeff Conine then hit a sacrifice fly to right field for the second out of the inning, allowing Cabrera to score from third and the other runners to each advance one base. This gave the Marlins their first lead of the night. Farnsworth intentionally walked Todd Hollandsworth (another future Cub) to once again load the bases.
The Marlins now having batted around the order, Farnsworth faced Mike Mordecai, who was looking to make up for his earlier out. This time, Mordecai prevailed, hitting a bases-clearing double to left-center field, allowing Lee, Lowell and Hollandsworth to score and making it a 7-3 Marlins lead.
Farnsworth was then taken out of the game and replaced by Mike Remlinger, who gave up a single to Pierre to score Mordecai from second base. Finally, Luis Castillo hit a high pop fly ball to shallow right field for the third out.
The Marlins' lead held, forcing a final Game 7.
|WP: Chad Fox (1-0) LP: Mark Prior (1-1)|
The Marlins got off to a quick 3–0 lead in the first inning against Cubs pitching ace Kerry Wood, who hadn't lost at Wrigley Field in nearly six weeks. The Cubs responded by tying the ball game 3–3 in the second inning, which featured a two-run home run by Wood. Moisés Alou's two-run home run the following inning put Chicago up 5–3, but the lead wouldn't last. In the fifth inning, Florida capitalized on a pair of walks and scored three runs to go on top 6–5, a lead they would not relinquish. The Marlins added a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh to expand their lead to 9–5. Cubs pinch-hitter Troy O'Leary hit a home run the bottom of the seventh, making the score 9–6. After the Cubs were retired in order in the eighth inning, Florida closer Ugueth Urbina hit Aramis Ramírez with a pitch to lead off the ninth inning and proceeded to retire the following three batters, giving the Marlins their second National League Pennant in their eleven-year existence.
|WP: Brad Penny (1-1) LP: Kerry Wood (0-1) Sv: Ugueth Urbina (1)|
Fla: Miguel Cabrera (3)
ChC: Kerry Wood (1), Moisés Alou (2), Troy O'Leary (1)
LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: Lansing
- Todd Hundley Statistics Baseball-Reference.com
- Tim Lincecum Statistics Baseball-Reference.com
- Randall Simon Statistics Baseball-Reference.com
- "2003 Chicago Cubs Batting, Pitching, & Fielding Statistics | Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
- "Report: Alou says he would have caught Bartman ball". ESPN.com. ESPN. June 3, 2008.
- Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, ed., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 3rd edition. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, 2007