September 23, 2008 will officially mark the 10th anniversary of the infamous E-7 that almost gave Cubs radio announcer Ron Santo a heart attack. The Cubs traveled to Milwaukee on the 22nd of September for a short two game series at Milwaukee County Stadium. The Cubs had won the first game 5-2 backed by Terry Mulholland's 8 inning 1 earned run performance. It was Mulholland's 6th win of the season. The win had brought the Cubs even with the New York Mets for the Wild Card, as the Montreal Expos had defeated the Mets 5-3. Now that the Cubs were tied with the Mets with 4 games remaining, it was essential that Chicago kept winning.
Game number 159 would feature Steve Trachsel of Chicago facing off against southpaw Rafael Roque. The game was scoreless going into the second inning when the Cubs scored twice without even recoding a base hit. Walks issued to Gary Gaetti, Steve Trachsel, Lance Johnson, and Jose Hernandez led to the first tally for the Cubs. With Mark Grace batting, a balk was issued against Roque, and Trachsel was able to score from third base. Grace would end the inning by looking at called strike three. Cubs 2-0.
The Cubs would add 5 more runs throughout the next four innings. Sammy Sosa hit his 64th and 65th home runs of the season in consecutive innings. Steve Trachsel had only given up 2 hits through 6 innings as the Cubs lead 7-0.
Going into the bottom of the 7th inning with the 4-5-6 hitters coming up for Milwaukee things got out of control very quickly. Jeromy Buritz and Marquis Grissom each singled, and Geoff Jenkins walked. The bags were loaded for Jose Valentin who doubled off of Trachsel to score 2 runs. Bobby Hughes would hit a sacrafice fly, and pinch hitter Brian Banks would single to center to score one more. Trachsel would be yanked for Felix Heridia, whom faced only one batter until he was pulled for Matt Karchner. The Brewers would score 4 total in the inning and trimmed the lead to 3. Cubs lead 7-4.
The Cubs would go easy in the top of the 8th, with only Sosa reaching base by means of intentional walk. Milwaukee would plate one run in the bottom of the 8th on a Bob Hamelin run scoring single off of Karchner. Cubs lead 7-5.
With Rod Beck warming up in the bullpen in the top of the 9th, the Cubs would have no luck adding insurance runs in their half of the inning. Two strikeouts and a groundout would strand Scott Servais on base. Rod Beck would come in and face the top of the order. Fernando Vina would quickly ground out. Mark Loretta singled to left, and Jeff Cirillo would double down the left field line. With runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, the Cubs gave the intentional pass to Jeromy Burnitz, loading the bases. Marquis Grissom would come up and foul out to third baseman Gary Gaetti. There were now 2 out and the Cubs were clinging to a 7-5 lead. Geoff Jenkins would come up to the plate and hit a routine fly ball to left fielder Brant Brown. What would happen next would make Cubs fans hearts break. It would make a Cubs commentator moan in disbelief. Brant Brown would drop the fly ball, scoring 3 runs for the Brewers giving them the win 8-7. Brown was credited with an E-7. In the eyes of Cubs fans, Brown's career would be tarnished forever.
The Cubs had a chance to gain a game lead on the New York Mets, and put the San Francisco Giants 2 games behind with 3 games remaining. Although Chicago would end up making the postseason due to the victory over the Giants in the 163rd game, it took help from the Colorado Rockies to force that game. The Cubs lost their last game of the season 4-3 in 11 innings at Houston, and the Rockies beat the Giants 8-7 in a come from behind victory. The Mets dropped out of the picture by losing their last 5 games. The task was simple for Brant Brown, catch the ball and the Cubs would have never been in a position of hoping for the Giants to be beat in their final game
I was at both games of this short series. The first game was a dominant win for the Cubs, and the second was a pure Cubs disaster. A moment I'll never forget or be able to get rid of. A seven run lead turned into an 8-7 loss. Nothing is ever over until it says final on the scoreboard.
To read more on Brant Brown's career refer to the following link.
Game stats and box score courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com/b