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A look back in Cubs history; Mark Prior’s complete game in the ’03 NLDS

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It wasn’t necessarily this date, but this stretch of baseball for the Cubs that I remember most from my life. The 2003 season. Oh, so much joy, and so much pain. But on this day 11 years ago, before the Bartman game, the Cubs were providing excitement, and something even more powerful to Chicago fans.

Hope.

Mark Prior took to the mound to face one of the greats, Greg Maddux. Prior and Kerry Wood had been the heart of the Cubs staff all season. Was Prior nervous? Well of course.

"“Obviously there is nervousness and a little anxiety. You wouldn’t be human if you weren’t anxious in this situation. It’s the playoffs, you lose and you go home.” ESPNChicago.com"

But none of that showed as Prior hurled an absolute gem, a two-hit complete game. A Marcus Giles single, and a Mark Derosa double. That was it. Derosa would come around to score on a groundout, then a sacrifice fly by Giles. But aside from that, Prior looked dominant, as he had since coming off the DL in August. He went 10-1 down the stretch earning the Cubs their first division title since 1989.

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The Cubs had been the beneficiaries of some great deadline deals, acquiring Aramis Ramirez, Kenny Lofton, and Randall Simon  from the Pittsburgh Pirates. All three helped contribute, and Prior was thrilled to have them.

"“I thank Pittsburgh for letting us have them, and they’ve been absolutely awesome for us.”"

I remember watching this game in my apartment with several friends. Prior was surgical. The Braves had been one of the best, if not the best offensive team in baseball all season. The led the NL in average (.284), homers (235), and runs scored (907).

And he put on a performance that had many, not just Chicago fans, believing he was the best pitcher in baseball. It was hard to dispute after the performance.

The final line on Prior: 9 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 4 BB, 7 K.

We’re all aware of how that season ended for the Cubs. But on this night, Mark Prior established his place in history with one of the greatest games pitched in the franchise’s history.

Hopefully next season in October, the next chapter will be written for the Cubs.

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