Sunday, January 18, 2009

Revisiting May 6, 1998

So Kerry Wood took out a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune on the last day of the Cubs Convention thanking Cubs fans for his time in Chicago, a time in which Dusty Baker managed to destroy the arms of both he and pitching buddy Mark Prior (who could have been nothing short of Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, if it had not been for Dee-Bo.) And speaking of ridiculous, never-used nicknames, apparently Kerry Wood has a nickname, too - "Kid K" - because of his 20 strikeout game against the Astros on May 6, 1998. Though it's hardly a nickname if nobody has ever used it. Like Julio "Wife-Smasher" Lugo.

But still, I have maintained - and currently maintain - that Kerry Wood's performance against the Astros was the single-most dominant pitching performance...EVER. Facing Shane Reynolds - who himself was 2-2, Sha-Rey (in keeping with the nickname thing) threw a complete game, one-run game. Let's recap, inning-by-inning (only the Houston at-bats):

1st inning:
Craig Biggio struck out
Derek Bell struck out
Jeff Bagwell called out on strikes

2nd inning:
Jack Howell struck out
Moises Alou struck out
Dave Clark flied out to center

3rd inning:
Ricky Gutierrez singled to shortstop (on a bobble by Chicago shortstop Jeff Blauser)
Brad Ausmus struck out
Shane Reynolds out on a sac bunt
Biggio grounded out to short

4th inning:
Bell flied to right
Bagwell called out on strikes
Howell called out on strikes

5th inning:
Alou called out on strikes
Clark called out on strikes
Gutierrez called out on strikes

6th inning:
Ausmus grounded out to second
Reynolds called out on strikes
Biggio hit by a pitch
Bell popped to first

7th inning:
Bagwell struck out
Howell struck out
Alou struck out

8th inning:
Clark struck out
Gutierrez struck out
Ausmus called out on strikes

9th inning:
Bill Spiers struck out
Biggio grounded out to short
Bell struck out

Cubs win 2-0. Wood, of course, struck out 20 batters. He struck out the side four times. Only two Astros hit the ball to the outfield. That Gutierrez single should have been ruled an error, and aside from a Biggio HBP, we're looking at a 20-strikeout, perfect game. 11 Ks were swinging, meaning 9 of them were strikeouts that Astros' batters were caught looking, and eight of the last nine batters got rung up, as well.

Nolan Ryan holds the record for most strikeouts in a no-hitter (as well as 2nd, 3rd and 6th place on that list) with 17. Clemens, in his first 20K game, April 29, 1986 vs. Seattle, gave up three hits and one run - a homer. In his second 20K game, September 18, 1996 gave up five hits.

Wood's was the most dominating pitching performance. Disagree? Comment or e-mail.

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