The most perfect pitch ever

“This is good ol’ fashioned country hardball. I’ll throw as hard as I can. You swing as hard as you can and we’ll see who ends up on top.”

Bob Brenly during the classic match up of Kerry Wood and Prince Fielder in the 9th inning
September 15, 2008

What an incredible Cubs game tonight. Of course the events leading up to tonight’s game were truly unique. Let’s start there.

The Cubs are coming back from a historic series with Houston. Hurricane Ike forced the Cubs and Astros to play not in Houston, but in Milwaukee, aka Wrigley North. Houston had won something like 14 out of 15 games going into the series. The Cubs respond with the first Cubs no-hitter in 32 years. Thanks, Zambrano. And Ted Lilly pitches a one-hitter for the second game.

Now Milwaukee comes to town. They just fired their manager, Ned Yost, because the Brew Crew have lost something like 12 out of 14 games. But Milwauke is tied with Philadelphia for the Wild Card lead. So Yost’s firing was a bit controversial. Both the Brewers and the Cubs are riding on the highest highs and lowest lows from the events leading to this series.

Then comes the 9th inning. The Cubs have a 5-3 lead. Kerry Wood gives up a run. Wood giving up that one run made me very nervous. “Is he off tonight?”

It’s 5-4. Ryan Braun gets an infield single. Runners on 1st and 3rd. Two outs. The go-ahead run is on first.

Up steps Prince Fielder. Oh boy. He entered my This-guy-is-a-real-jerk list earlier in the season. The Cubs and Brewers were fighting for first place. The Cubs wound up sweeping the 3 game series. At the end of the third game Fielder throws a childish tantrum in the dugout flipping over Gatorade coolers. He didn’t get a bad call or anything. He was just throwing a hissy-fit because his pathetic team was swept by a superior team. Throughout my life I always kinda liked the Brewers. Milwaukee is a fun town and I thought the Brewers were charming with their sausage races and such. But that image was tarnished from the Brewers’ behavior at the end of that series. (They also threw a high and tight pitch at Jim Edmonds’ head at the end of the third game because he had two homers.)

Back to tonight’s game. Fielder was 3 for 4 going into the 9th. One double, two homers. One of the homers was a jaw-dropper monster shot onto Sheffield Avenue. So it’s now Kerry Wood against Prince Fielder. Bob Brenly had a great quote mentioned at the beginning of this post. It’s raw power versus raw power.

The count ran full to 3-2. Fielder kept fouling off fastball after fastball. They were all high fastballs, too. As each pitch was thrown and fouled off I kept wondering if Wood could throw another fastball past Fielder or if Fielder would just send another one over to Sheffield. Then Kerry Wood throws the most perfect pitch ever. Seriously. It was the most perfect pitch I have ever seen in my entire life. It was a breaking ball slider down the middle of the plate. Prince Fielder’s knees buckle. The bat never left his shoulder. Strike three. Game over. Cubs win.

I have just can’t say this enough. I am so amazed at how this team has just kept winning game after game after game this season. They’re always winning games.