The 2010 baseball season was a disappointment on both sides of town; the Cubs, never really in the race, made their season look less disastrous with a 24-13 finish under new manager Mike Quade, while the White Sox rode a 27-5 run into first place in late June, only to fade and finish six games behind the first-place Twins.
But that doesn't mean there weren't memorable baseball games involving our local teams this summer. As MLB's postseason gets ready to begin tomorrow, here's a fond look back at our choices for the top five games played by our teams in 2010.
Just this past Thursday, the Cubs faced the Padres in San Diego with the Padres desperate for a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Tom Gorzelanny and Jon Garland matched zeroes into the seventh, then handed it off to their bullpens. In the top of the ninth, two Cubs rookies -- Darwin Barney and Brad Snyder -- used a single, a sacrifice and another single off Padres closer Heath Bell to win the game 1-0, the Cubs' fifth 1-0 win of the season (second-most in the major leagues in a year when there were 61 1-0 games, the most since 1976) and a critical blow to the Padres, who missed tying for the NL wild card by one game.
The first game after the All-Star break saw the two biggest rivals in the AL Central in action at Minnesota's new Target Field. And the game did not disappoint; the Sox roared out to a 4-0 lead after the top of the second, including a home run from Gordon Beckham. But the Twins came back with six of their own in the second inning; the Sox answered with one in the fourth and three in the fifth, including a run scored on a balk, to take an 8-6 lead. With Bobby Jenks laboring, the Twins fought back with a run in the bottom of the ninth and had the tying run on base when Jenks struck out Jim Thome to end the game with a Sox win over the Twins, who at the time were 4.5 games behind, in third place.
On a warm Saturday night at the Cell, a raucous sellout crowd of 39,479 saw the Cubs' Carlos Silva and the Sox' Freddy Garcia battle to a draw; the game went into the eighth inning tied 2-2 when Aramis Ramirez, just back from the disabled list, launched a home run into the left field seats. The game was turned over to the bullpens and Andrew Cashner, making just his eighth major league appearance, was firing 98 MPH bullets at Paul Konerko. Konerko managed to time one of them; he sent Cashner's fourth pitch, timed even faster at 99 MPH, deep into the night for a 3-2 lead. The Cubs got the tying run on base in the ninth before Matt Thornton got Alfonso Soriano to hit into a game-ending double play. It was the last victory of the Sox' eleven-game winning streak that had begun the day after... one of the games you'll see below.
The first of three shutouts they would fashion during their 11-game winning streak that vaulted them into contention, Jake Peavy was masterful in the late-afternoon shadows in Washington, holding the Nats to only three hits, all singles, and striking out seven in one of two complete game shutouts the Sox threw this year (the other: a two-hitter by John Danks over the Angels on July 8, also a 1-0 win). I chose this one over the Danks game because Peavy had to retire the tough Josh Willingham in the bottom of the ninth with the tying run on second and the winning run on first to end it.
And to top them all, a game involving not only both baseball teams in front of ESPN's Sunday night audience, but the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks parading the Cup around Wrigley Field and posing for photos with members of both ballclubs before the game -- perhaps the only time in history that three Chicago teams had been on the same field at the same time. The pregame ceremony and National Anthem by the Hawks' Jim Cornelison were stirring, and then the ballgame made the night even more exciting. The Sox' Gavin Floyd and the Cubs' Ted Lilly were masterful; neither team had a hit until the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano doubled with two out in the bottom of the seventh. He scored on a Chad Tracy (remember him?) single. Lilly then took his no-hitter into the ninth; the Sox' Juan Pierre broke it up with a clean leadoff single to center. Lou Piniella called on closer Carlos Marmol, who wound up loading the bases before retiring Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin to win the game 1-0, another of the five 1-0 wins for the Cubs in 2010 -- and the Sox' only 1-0 loss.