While no one debates that on May 6, 1998, Kerry Wood completed one of the finest pitching performances in MLB history, Wood said Friday that the lone hit he allowed in his 20-strikeout game - that could have been ruled an error - was legitimate.
The rookie, making his sixth career start, struck out 20 batters, allowed just one hit and went the distance in a 2-0 Cubs victory. Wood needed 122 pitches to slice through the Astros lineup, which included a pair of future Hall of Famers in Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.
But it's that lone hit - a seemingly meaningless Ricky Gutierrez single in the top of the 3rd - that some Cubs fans still debate to this day. Gutierrez, batting 7th, took a Wood pitch and grounded it in between third base and shortstop. Third baseman Kevin Orie ranged to his left on the well struck ball, and it caromed off his glove into left field.
Gutierrez got to third base on a sacrifice bunt and later on a Wood balk, though Wood got Biggio to ground out to end the inning.
There's some thought that Orie's stab at the grounder - a diving attempt could have stopped the ball - could have been ruled an error. It wound up being the only hit Wood gave up that day, and a ruling of an error would have given the 20-year-old a no-hitter.
But Wood, filling in Friday for Jim DeShaies on the CSN broadcast of Cubs-Brewers, put the debate to rest.
"Hit all the way, as soon as I saw it," Wood said. "Never crossed my mind that that was an error or they were going to give him an error. Never glanced at the scoreboard. It was a hit all the way."
There you go. Case closed.
Also, Wood was of course impressed with striking out 20 batters in a single game. But to him, walking zero batters on an Astros team that led the league in on-base percentage was what impressed him most. Check out the entire interview in the video above.