Chicago Cubs: A Look Back at 2008

Neil FinnellCorrespondent IDecember 31, 2008

The Cubs took advantage of a favorable home schedule in August and paced the second-place Brewers. The offense struggled in September before waking up and putting away the division against the Cardinals on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Wrigley.

The Cubs designated Scott Eyre for assignment on Aug. 5 and traded him to the Phillies two days later for minor league pitching prospect Brian Schlitter.

From a memorable August, to Hurricane Ike, to Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter against the Astros in Miller Park, to winning the Central Division for the second year in a row, the final two months of the regular season provided an appropriate ending to a great year.

August and September - No Offense in September, a disappearing ace, hurricanes, a No-hitter and a crown.

Cubs Record in August: 20-8 - Overall Record for 2008 as of August 31st - 85-52 - First place in the Central Division four-and-a-half games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers

Edmonds Beats the Cardinals - Aug. 8, 2008 - A Defensive Thriller

On the 20th Anniversary of the first scheduled night game at Wrigley Field, the Cubs and Cardinals squared off in a day game. Ted Lilly faced Braden Looper and the game ended up being decided in the 11th inning on a bases loaded single to center by Henry Blanco.

But the big story was Jim Edmonds. The former Cardinal hit two solo home runs that accounted for two of the Cubs' three runs. Edmonds made his feelings known about his former team and manager by gestures toward the dugout after his second longball.

The final score was 3-2 and Bobby Howry picked up the win.

Defense, Defense and More Defense - Aug. 10, 2008 - Fielding the Difference

A day after the Cardinals spanked Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster took the hill on Sunday Night Baseball and the Cubs' defense helped post the series win against their long-time rivals.

Jim Edmonds, Ronny Cedeno, Derrek Lee, Kosuke Fukudome, Mark DeRosa, Ryan Theriot and Ryan Dempster all turned in exceptional efforts in the field that helped keep the Cardinals off the board.

While the Cubs were making play after play, the Cardinals poor defense led to the Cubs first two runs. The Big Three had a good night but a two-out, two-run double by Ronny Cedeno in the sixth was the big hit in the game.

Ryan Dempster posted his 13th win of the year in the 6-2 victory.

Sweeping the Braves - Aug. 14, 2008 - Piniella's March Through Atlanta

The Cubs completed their first ever season series sweep of the Atlanta Braves on a Thursday night in Georgia. Ted Lilly beat Tom Glavine....and of course there was a "benches clearing discussion" after Lilly hit Yunel Escobar. Geovany Soto had to restrain the Bulldog.

The Cubs pounded out 14 hits, six for extra bases in the 11-7 win. Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano went deep but Ramirez left the game in the 5th inning after an awkward headfirst slide into home.

Mark Kotsay hit for the cycle in the loss and the Cubs improved to 27 games over .500 for the first time...their 8th road win in a row was the longest streak for the Cubs since 1945.

Ward Powers Cubs in Florida - Aug. 15, 2008 - Finally....Z Cubs Win in Florida!

The Cubs won for the first time in the state of Florida under Lou Piniella and ended their seven game losing streak to the Marlins at Dolphin Stadium in the 6-5 win. Carlos Zambrano struggled and the Cubs found themselves down 5-3 in the top of the ninth with two on and one-out.

Kevin Gregg threw strike one then Daryle Ward ripped his next pitch over the wall in right field. It was Ward's second home run of the year.

Kerry Wood recorded the save, his first since July 11.

Ramirez Slams the Phillies - Aug. 28, 2008 - What A Present....A Grand Comeback

Lou Piniella's 65th birthday was anything but calm. The Phillies opened a four-game series at Wrigley on a Thursday night in late August in a battle of staff aces. Ryan Dempster faced Cole Hamels and the Phillies' southpaw dominated the Cubs' offense once again. Dempster struggled with his command early on and left after six innings with the Cubs down 4-1.

Sean Marshall and Bobby Howry held the Phillies in check and gave the offense a chance to make another comeback.

Mike Fontenot cut the Phillies lead to 4-2 with a solo shot off of Ryan Madison. Alfonso Soriano doubled, Ryan Theriot singled and Derrek Lee walked to load the bases for Aramis Ramirez.....he took care of the rest and launched a grand slam into left center off of Chad Durbin.

The Cubs 6-4 victory over the Phillies was their 50th win of the year at the Friendly Confines.

Cubs Record in September: 12-12 - Overall Record for 2008 - 97-64: Finished the year seven-and-a-half games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers

Ted Lilly to the Rescue - Sept. 10, 2008 - Lilly Barreled 'Em Over

After a horrible start to September, no offense and a very upset manager, the Cubs were in need of a victory....and what they received was a statement from the Bulldog.

The Cubs beat the Cardinals and Braden Looper on a Wednesday night in St. Louis 4-3 for only their second win of the month. The Cubs scored a pair of runs on a throwing error by Felipe Lopez and was flat at the plate once again.

Ted Lilly made a statement in the second inning when he ran over Yadier Molina at the plate. Lilly was tagged out but sent the message to his teammates to wake up and start playing ball again.

Felix Pie drove in his eighth run of the year. Kerry Wood gave up a two-run homer to Ryan Ludwick in the ninth but recovered and picked up his 29th save of the year.

Unfortunate Time Off - Sept. 12, 2008 - Weekend Up in the Air

Hurricane Ike changed the lives of many, many people in September of 2008. Baseball and the rescheduling of three games against the Astros made headlines in the following days.

Zambrano's No-Hitter - Sept. 14, 2008 - Z No-No for Zambrano

The Cubs and Astros resumed play on a Sunday evening in Miller Park to a lot of controversy. Two of the three games that were postponed due to Hurricane Ike were moved to Miller Park....or Wrigley Field North.

The Astros were not (and are still not) happy with the decision to basically give the Cubs two more home games. The Faithful responded, filled Miller Park and Carlos Zambrano took care of the rest.

Big Z threw the first no-hitter of his career and the first for the organization since Milt Pappas in September of 1972. Zambrano dominated the Astros in the second best pitching performance for a Cubs pitcher in the last 25 years.

Zambrano went the distance on 110 pitches in the 5-0 win.

Alfonso Soriano led off the game with his 28th home run of the year and Derrek Lee doubled in a pair with two-outs. The Cubs scored four runs in the third inning with two outs. But the night was all about Carlos was a day many thought was long overdue.

Sabathia's First Loss - Sept. 16, 2008 - TCB Against CC

The Cubs and Ryan Dempster handed CC Sabathia his first loss in the opener of the three-game series at Wrigley Field. Dempster beat the Brewers for the fourth time in the 5-4 win and Kerry Wood picked up his 31st save of the year.

Ryan Dempster became the first Cubs pitcher since Ferguson Jenkins in 1971 to post 13 wins in a single season at Wrigley Field.

Alfonso Soriano and Derrek Lee both doubled in the first inning to put the Cubs on the board. Soriano then hit his 29th longball of the year in the seventh inning....his fifth career blast off of CC Sabathia.

Henry Blanco drove in a huge insurance run in the eighth and Kerry Wood struck out Prince Fielder looking on a nasty curveball on a 3-2 pitch.

Soto's Shot - Sept. 18, 2008 - Can You Believe It? Cubs WIN!!!

Down by a score of 6-2 with two-out and no one on in the ninth, Aramis Ramirez doubled past Ryan Braun in left off of Salomon Torres. Jim Edmonds followed with a single to center that plated Ramirez...6-3 Brewers. Mark DeRosa followed with a single and Geovany Soto stepped to the plate.

No sooner than Pat Hughes tried to explain what could happen, Soto launched the first pitch from Torres into the bleachers in left....Ryan Braun barely moved. Game tied at six.

Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood did their jobs in the 10th and 11th innings but Wood ran into trouble in the 12th. Wood put runners on second and third with no outs, Lou Piniella made the walk but left Wood in and did not issue the intentional walk to load the bases.

With the infield in, Craig Counsell grounded out to Mark DeRosa for the first out. Jason Kendall hit a grounder to third and J.J. Hardy was caught in a run down between home and third for the second out of the inning. Joe Dillon then grounded out to Ryan Theriot to end the inning.

Derrek Lee drove in pinch runner Jason Marquis in the 12th to give the Cubs the 7-6 win.

Back-to-Back Champions - Sept. 20, 2008 - It's A Fact Jack....The Cubs Go Back-to-Back!!!

Lou Piniella's crew became the first Cubs' team to win back-to-back division titles in the history of division play....and for the first time since 1906-1908 the Cubs were headed to the post-season in consecutive seasons.

The Cubs and Ted Lilly beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4 on that glorious day in Chicago. Kerry Wood recorded the save and Jim Edmonds caught the final out.....the third division title since 2003 for the Chicago Cubs.

Alfonso Soriano drove in the Cubs' first two runs. Mark DeRosa doubled in one and Ted Lilly squeezed in one as well.

The final score was 5-4.

The Cubs failed to win a game in October for the second year in a row and were swept by Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers in the NLDS. The 2008 Chicago Cubs will be remembered for the way they finished the year and it is unfortunate because it was truly a remarkable summer on the North Side of Chicago.

Cubs Radio Highlights from the 2008 season


    Tommy Hottovy Makes Smooth Transition from Pitcher to Analyst to Coach for Cubs

    Chicago Cubs logo
    Chicago Cubs

    Tommy Hottovy Makes Smooth Transition from Pitcher to Analyst to Coach for Cubs

    Chicago Sun-Times
    via Chicago Sun-Times

    Yankees GM Says Team Is a 'Fully Operational Death Star'

    MLB logo

    Yankees GM Says Team Is a 'Fully Operational Death Star'

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report

    Boras: Owners Are Pursuing Harper's Legacy in FA Pitches

    MLB logo

    Boras: Owners Are Pursuing Harper's Legacy in FA Pitches

    Paul Kasabian
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: NYY Are Machado's 1st Choice If They Meet Price

    MLB logo

    Report: NYY Are Machado's 1st Choice If They Meet Price

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report