Weekend Watch: Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game

Profile Picture: Jeremy Balan

June 26th, 2020

With nearly every major sports league suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic, fans around the world are yearning for a return to normalcy.

The sports we love will be back, but in the interim, as we wait out the virus that has turned our world upside down, it's important to stay connected to the games we love.

Our Weekend Watch feature touches on the most significant moments in sports history, and luckily for us in this modern age, many of them are viewable online, in their entirety.

May 6, 1998: Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game

With the news this week that baseball is on its way back into our lives, I really wanted to find a standout pitching performance to watch. I thought about perfect games and no-hitters, but a lot of those hinge on circumstance.

Don't get me wrong. You have to be great to throw a no-hitter or a perfect game, but you also need a ton of help from teammates in the field.

But if you're looking for pure pitching dominance, it doesn't get better than Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game, which was a one-hitter. Before we get into the performance, remember who he did it against — the Houston Astros.

Craig Biggio is in the Hall of Fame and hit .325 in 1998. Jeff Bagwell hit .304 in 1998 and is also in the Hall of Fame. Moises Alou was a .303 lifetime hitter and Derek Bell was hitting .403 through 30 games!

Those four struck out a combined nine times against Wood. To be fair, Biggio was overmatched in his first at-bat, but that was his only strikeout during the game. The lone hit came from shortstop Ricky Gutierrez.

Unlike no-hitters and perfect games, Wood's one-hitter didn't require luck. Recording 20 of the 27 outs in a game via strikeout is still hard to believe. And maybe the most impressive aspect of the performance was that he didn't issue a walk, even though a member of the Cubs broadcast team said before the game, "He’s got the 98-mph heat, but can he get it over?”

Uh, yeah. He can. And he did.

He also had a filthy curveball, and he wasn't even old enough to order an alcoholic beverage. If you can watch just one pitch from this game, fast forward to Wood's 19th strikeout, where left-handed pinch hitter Bill Spiers misses an inside breaking ball by about a foot.

What I would do for the ability to hurl a baseball past anybody who got in the batter's box. I'll have to settle for wiffle ball, I guess, and enjoy Wood's dominance all over again.