Today is May 6th, which marks the 16th year anniversary of Kerry Wood’s 20 strikeout game. Some consider it the best game ever pitched, and it’s difficult to argue against it. He had a Game Score of 105, which is the highest ever for a 9-inning game recorded in baseball history, throwing his 20 Ks over 9.0 IP allowing only 1 infield hit, 0 BBs, and 1 HBP (Craig Biggio, so does that really count?). In honor of the event, I went back and made Gifs of each strikeout he recorded so you can relive the amazing game to its fullest.
#1 Swinging, Fastball to Craig Biggio - Wood elevates his Fastball and puts it just out of reach of Biggio right off the plate. Biggio gave it a weak flail, probably realizing too late that it was too close to take.
#2 Swinging, Curveball to Derek Bell - It was clear his Curveball was working from the start of the game, and Bell looks way out of character swinging mightily through this hook.
#3 Looking, Fastball to Jeff Bagwell – Very similar to the Biggio strikeout, but closer to the black. Bagwell probably still believes this was Ball 3.
#4 Swinging, Fastball to Jack Howell – Wood threw a challenge Fastball and simply blew it right by Howell. Clearly overmatched.
#5 Swinging, Fastball to Moises Alou - A very uncomfortable swing from a guy that doesn’t strike out much. Looks as though he geared for a Curve, then had to change his approach at the last moment.
#6 Swinging, Fastball to Brad Ausmus - This may have been ball four, but it’s difficult to tell. Wood was dancing around the zone all of this game, rarely showing up in the heart of the plate, and this was too close a pitch to take.
#7 Looking, Curveball to Jeff Bagwell - *Whistles* Now that’s a pretty Curveball.
#8 Looking, Fastball to Jack Howell - Another well placed fastball right on the black that could have gone either way. Pinpoint control for Wood.
#9 Looking, Fastball Moises Alou - Are we sensing a pattern here? Wood was absolutely locked in with his fastball and spotting up the corners effortlessly.
#10 Looking, Curveball to Dave Clark - Wood struck him out on three pitches, all three Curveballs that were taken for strikes identical to the last. Yes, he was clearly in the zone.
#11 Looking, Fastball to Ricky Gutierrez – He had fun with the Curveball, but let’s get back to the bread-and-butter of this outing: perfectly located outside Fastballs.
#12 Looking, Fastball to Shane Reynolds – Reynolds, the opposing pitcher, didn’t want anything to do with Wood, as you can see him stepping out of the box as Wood pumps a Fastball down the middle. 12 Ks, and every batter in the lineup has been rung up at least once.
#13 Swinging, Fastball to Jeff Bagwell - Another 3-2 count, but Bagwell decides not to let the umpire call him out a third time by attacking Wood’s challenge fastball. Bagwell lost.
#14 Swinging, Fastball to Jack Howell - Howell probably looked the worst against Wood in this game. This is the second at-bat where Howell couldn’t catch up to a fastball near the heart of the plate.
#15 Swinging, Curveball to Moises Alou - I can’t say for sure given the camera angle, but it looks like a Curveball down and away that Alou couldn’t hold up on. One of my favorites just for the incredible hatred in Alou’s eyes.
#16 Swinging, Curveball to Dave Clark - It doesn’t matter if he swung or not, that Curveball was a death sentence for Clark. Beautiful.
#17 Swinging, Fastball to Ricky Gutierrez - And we’re back to fastballs right on the outside corner. Textbook.
#18 Looking, Curveball to Brad Ausmus - Wood locates his Curveball perfectly down and away from Ausmus. Nothing he could have done with it.
#19 Swinging, Curveball to Bill Spiers - Wood was so dominant, that not only did he strike out the entire Astros starting lineup at least once, but he also got the sole pinch-hitter as well. This pitch looks straight out of a wiffle-ball game, leaving Spiers absolutely helpless.
#20 Swinging, Curveball to Derek Bell - Is it possible that Wood’s Curveball actually got better as the game went on? Here he shows a bit more horizontal movement as well to match it’s depth, and Bell can only wave his bat at it to end the game.
It’s certainly fun to look back and remember how dominating Wood was when he first entered the majors, but it’s also a sad reminder that he was never able to have the lengthy and prestigious career that many saw for the young Cub. Nevertheless, he will always have this historic outing for the rest of his life, and so will we.
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