W - Wood (3-2), History. Fastballs over the outside corner. Generous outside corners.
L - Reynolds (2-3), any losers who didn't see this game live because they were out in the rain and cold shooting a bad round of golf. Trying to come up with an adequate term for that freaky breaking pitch of Wood's.
Things to Take from This Game
1. Wood Strikes Out 20, Two Batters Reach in Complete Game Shutout
From the first few pitches of the game it was clear that Wood had a potentially history-making fastball and breaking stuff working today. Wood K'd his first five,and gave up his only hit on a grounder by Gutierrez off of Orie's glove. This won't make me the most popular guy around here, but yeah, it was a hit. It also was a play that Orie probably makes more often than not. Tough luck for everyone involved. The only other runner came on a curveball that got away from Wood and beaned Biggio. The performance is every bit as dominating as the box score will indicate. Almost without exception, the Astros looked completely helpless.
2. Cubs scratch out 2 runs against Reynolds
Reynolds threw a complete game gem, himself, with 10 Ks and 1 ER in 8 innings. The Cubs' scores came on a Grace "double" in the second, on an incredibly generous ruling where third-baseman Howell got completely devoured by a bouncer. Grace then advanced to third as left-fielder Dave Clark throws away the potential play at second base. Oh Henry! drove him in with a sac fly to Alou in deep center field. They added another for good measure in the eighth; Morandini and Grace singled, with Morandini scoring on an attempted 5-4-3 double play that was too slowly turned and resulted in a fielder's choice.
3. Greatest Game Ever?
A traditional recap can not adequatly contextualize this game. The central question at this moment, just minutes after witnessing this gem, is not "what do we take from this game?" but "where will this game place among the all-time great games ever pitched?" Larson's perfect game came in a far more important context. Haddix's perfect game through 12 innings kept more hitters off base for longer. Clemens has two 20-K games to his record, but as I thumb through the pages of my favorite baseball encyclopedia, I see that Clemens gave up five hits in his 1996 gem, and a run on three hits in 1986. The 1996 Tigers and 1986 Mariners, furthermore, were no 1998 Astros. IS this the greatest game ever? If only we had some sort of pitcher's in-game dominance statistic, and a place that compiled every statistic from every game ever played. Then we might have a more objective idea of where this game ranks on the list of all-time great pitching performances. In the meantime, here's hoping that Wood's career is as successful and distinguished as the Rocket's.
4. Looking to the Future... All the way to the Year... 2000...
This has to portend well for the Cubs. If Wood can stay healthy and anchor a rotation with Trachsel, and another talented young arm like Geremi Gonzalez or Terry Adams or Telemaco emerges as a compliment, we could have a dominant rotation for a decade to come. We just need Wood's health to hold, and though we know he was worked hard in high school, he seems to be a very well built young man, and hopefully can keep his strength up. The Cubs winning a world series may be about as likely as a black president or a second Great Depression, but Wood may have the arm to get us there.
The if-this-is-his-rookie-year, just-imagine-the-things-to-come details, below.