Friday, May 06, 2016
The 20-Strikeout Game
It happened on this day, 18 years ago. I was there, sitting in my regular seats, freezing my butt off that day. I must confess, I didn’t recognize at first the magnitude of what I was watching. I remember thinking, “boy he’s got a lot of strikeouts,” but I had no idea he had as many as he did.
At one point I leaned forward and tapped the shoulder of the guy sitting in front of me. He was listening to the game on the radio.
“How many strikeouts does Wood have?” I asked him.
“12,” he answered.
That’s when I really started paying attention. The Astros, it should be noted, were in first place, and had a very formidable lineup that day including Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Derek Bell, and Moises Alou.
You could almost feel the ballpark catching on to what was happening, slowly but surely. With each successive strikeout, the cheers got louder and louder. This might have been the most dominating performance in baseball history. The Astros only managed to hit it out of the infield twice, two weak fly balls. Wood only allowed two runners, a squib infield hit by Ricky Gutierez, and a hit-by-pitch to Craig Biggio.
In the ninth, the few thousand of us who braved the really horrible weather conditions to stay, all rose to our feet as Wood struck out pinch hitter Billy Spiers for his 19th strikeout. We applauded when Biggio grounded out.
And we roared when Wood struck out Derek Bell to end the game.
A game I’ll never forget.