The 1988 season started off reasonably well for the Cubs, a bit over .500, though the Mets' race out to a 22-8 start had put the Cubs seven games behind by the time the Padres visited on a Wednesday afternoon in May. The 12,600 who showed up had no idea they were about to be treated to a demonstration of pitching and old-time baseball that harkened back to the 1910s.
The pitcher giving the first of many demonstrations of pinpoint pitching was, of course, Greg Maddux. Maddux had a rough rookie year in 1987, but started 1988 well, and on this day he mowed down Padres left and right. He allowed just three baserunners, on two doubles and a single (and Garry Templeton, who singled, was picked off), with no walks and eight strikeouts in 10 innings.
The Cubs couldn't score, either, despite having what would have been the winning run in scoring position with less than two out in the eighth and ninth innings. That left things to the bottom of the 10th, led off by Ryne Sandberg. Alan Solomon, in the Tribune, describes what happened next:
It was Sandberg who set up the winning run in the 10th with a leadoff triple that hit the left-field wall just beyond Keith Moreland's leaping range. San Diego manager Larry Bowa walked Grace and Andre Dawson to fill the bases and brought in left-hander Mark Davis, his third pitcher of the day, to throw to left-hander Rafael Palmeiro.
[Rafael] Palmeiro bounced into a force play at home that was expected to cost the Cubs Sandberg for two days. Sandberg sustained a cut above his left knee while sliding home that needed a couple of stitches to close.
Up came [Vance] Law. Davis pitched out, but no one moved, and Law didn't bite. The next pitch was in the dirt. Law tried to bunt, and the ball trickled behind catcher Benito Santiago. Grace crossed the plate with what looked like the winning run, but umpire John Kibler called it a foul ball.
"I didn't touch the ball," said Law.
He took a full swing at the next pitch, then watched a ball. It was 2-2.
"I wasn't even thinking about a bunt after two strikes," said Davis. "I never thought they'd squeeze."
Surprise. They did.
Law pushed the ball to the right side, Grace stepped on the plate, and Maddux had his sixth victory, tying his total for all of 1987.
A 10-inning, 1-0 shutout with the winning run squeezed home. Oh, if only the Cubs -- or any team -- could do this now. I mentioned the other day in writing about Dennis Eckersley's 10-inning shutout in 1985, that there have been just nine such games since then. This is one of the nine. The Cubs are the only team to have two pitchers throw an extra-inning, CG shutout since 1980, when two Cardinals (Jim Kaat and Bob Sykes, of all people) did it.