Did Kerry Wood Pitch The Greatest 9 Inning Game Ever?

Ball8StatsMatt Snyder of CBS is doing a series of stories on each franchise’s bests and worsts, starting Monday with the Chicago Cubs.

He understandably – but wrongly – names the Sandberg game as the best regular season moment in franchise history.

It’s understandable, in that Ryne Sandberg hit two game-tying home runs against the Cardinals’ Bruce Sutter on a nationally televised game. It launched him into the national conversation early in his Hall of Fame career.

It’s wrong, however, because rookie Kerry Wood pitched the greatest regular season moment in Cubs history. In fact, Wood’s 20-strikeout game against the Astros in 1998 was arguably the greatest nine-inning pitching performance in baseball history.

(Snyder has since updated his story to add a pitching category to include the Wood 20-strikeout game.)

Here, ranked by Game Scores, are the top nine inning games in baseball history.

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R BB SO Pit Str GSc BF HBP SH
1 Kerry Wood 1998-05-06 CHC HOU W 2-0 SHO9, W 9.0 1 0 0 20 122 84 105 29 1 1
2 Clayton Kershaw 2014-06-18 LAD COL W 8-0 SHO9, W 9.0 0 0 0 15 107 79 102 28 0 0
3 Matt Cain 2012-06-13 SFG HOU W 10-0 SHO9, W 9.0 0 0 0 14 125 86 101 27 0 0
4 Nolan Ryan 1991-05-01 TEX TOR W 3-0 SHO9, W 9.0 0 0 2 16 122 83 101 29 0 0
5 Sandy Koufax 1965-09-09 LAD CHC W 1-0 SHO9, W 9.0 0 0 0 14 113 79 101 27 0 0
6 Brandon Morrow 2010-08-08 TOR TBR W 1-0 SHO9, W 9.0 1 0 2 17 137 97 100 31 0 0
7 Randy Johnson 2004-05-18 ARI ATL W 2-0 SHO9, W 9.0 0 0 0 13 117 87 100 27 0 0
8 Curt Schilling 2002-04-07 ARI MIL W 2-0 SHO9, W 9.0 1 0 2 17 127 85 100 29 0 0
9 Nolan Ryan 1973-07-15 CAL DET W 6-0 SHO9, W 9.0 0 0 4 17 100 31 0 0
10 Nolan Ryan 1972-07-09 CAL BOS W 3-0 SHO9, W 9.0 1 0 1 16 100 29 0 0
11 Warren Spahn 1960-09-16 MLN PHI W 4-0 SHO9, W 9.0 0 0 2 15 100 29 0 0

Wood would have had a no-hitter if not for Kevin Orie at third.

Note: For those wondering, this is how Game Score was developed by Bill James. Points are calculated thusly:

  • Start with 50 points.
  • Add 1 point for each out recorded, so 3 points for every complete inning pitched.
  • Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th.
  • Add 1 point for each strikeout.
  • Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed.
  • Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed.
  • Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed.
  • Subtract 1 point for each walk.

And here are the strikeouts, for your viewing pleasure:

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