On May 6th, 1998 Chicago Cubs Pitcher Kerry Wood took the bump for the Chicago Cubs for the fifth time during his rookie year against the Houston Astros. Kerry Wood would go on to strike out 20 and only give up one hit in the 2-0 win.
For many ChicagoCubs fans in their early to mid-twenties, this game is your first relevant memory of the Cubs. Kerry Wood, the young and promising flamethrower just made history. Achieving a feat that to this day, only a handful of the games top performers have achieved. 20 strikeouts in 27 batters is unthinkable. To only give up one hit while doing it is pure dominance.
It was a beautiful day at Wrigley that day. The sun shined bright, and so did Kid K. The first three batters were all strikeouts, and Wood says he didn’t feel great in the bullpen, or after the first inning in a sit-down interview with former Cub Ryan Dempster.
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Wood gave up a controversial base hit in the top of the third. Many cubs fans, including myself, say that ball should have been fielded cleanly and should have been recorded as an error.
This was marked as a hit and would be the only hit of the day for the opposing Astros. Wood also comments on this play, urging fans that it was, in fact, a hit. While he is doing the right thing as a teammate, we as fans can say that was an error.
The rest of the game was much like the first inning. Wood’s stuff was so good The Astros couldn’t sniff it. Wood was truly an artist with a baseball that day, putting the ball wherever he wanted. Going back to watch his highlights every year on this day makes my jaw drop every time.
There are many out there, like myself, who believe this is the best single-game performance in Major League Baseball History. Just by the naked eye and looking at the stat sheet, you know it is up there, but watching the control and dominance displayed that day is like nothing else I have seen in sports. There was a scoring system called Game Score that evaluates everything a pitcher does in a game and scores it on a numerical scale.
The Game Score system allows for the ability to compare pitching performances, giving points to pitchers for strikeouts, outs, and wins and losing points for things like runs, walks, and losses. Wood has the highest game score ever recorded.
I encourage all Cubs fans and baseball fans to watch the Performance Kerry Wood put on at Wrigley Field on May 6th, 1998. Kerry Wood may never be inducted into Cooperstown, but he will always be remembered for his unforgettable 20 strikeout game.