Chicago Cubs: A historic ending signifies that Kid K belongs here
Going into the last three innings, it became clear to the Wrigley Field fans, the ones who toughed out the rain and the ones watching at home on television, they were witnessing a truly historic outing put on by the 20-year-old phenom.
In both the seventh and eighth innings, Wood struck out the side. His strikeout total now sat at a staunch 18.
With fans running out of “K” signs, they began to improvise, painting them on their bare beer bellies. Joining the plethora of “K” signs, a makeshift “E-5” sign was added, almost lobbying against the lone hit that was given up by Wood.
Reynolds, pitching exceptionally well himself, gave up one earned run, notching 10 strikeouts over eight innings. But the “K” signs and cheers weren’t for him. His great game didn’t even enter the zeitgeist of what was happening. On any other day, his strong performance would almost surely be good enough to win the ballgame. But, this day was all about one player… Kerry Wood.
Wood attempted to finish off Houston in the top of the ninth. He makes quick work of Bill Spiers for his 19th strikeout, tying the National League single-game record, set by David Cone, Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton.
When the army-helmeted Biggio grounded out next, the crowd booed as they couldn’t fathom anything else but a strikeout at this point, as Wood was just that good that day.
Only Bell now stood in the way of history. Wood quickly gained an advantage in the count, throwing pitches that were popping his battery-mate, Sandy Martinez‘s glove so loud, I could hear it from my couch as I inched closer.
A nasty breaking ball whipped outside of the zone and Bell chased as Kerry Wood, or “Kid K” as he’d be known after his game, notched his 20th strikeout of the game, tying the Major League record set by his Texas idol, Roger Clemens.
He emphatically snaps his fingers upon completing the final out, not because he tied the record, but because he didn’t surrender a walk the whole game like he’d been so infamously accustomed to in the minors.
"“It showed me that I belonged here,” said Wood in his 2018 documentary, “20.” “It’s not a fluke that I’m here, I deserve to be here.”"
To many, Wood’s epic 20-strikeout, no walk, one-hit shutout performance, is the greatest pitched game in baseball history.