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Today in Cubs history: Greg Maddux throws an extra-inning shutout

This was a day when a 22-year-old pitcher came of age.

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The 1988 season started off reasonably well for the Cubs. They were 16-15 when the Padres visited Wrigley Field on an overcast 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 would have felt at home in the early part of the 20th Century.

The pitcher giving the first of many demonstrations of pinpoint pitching was Greg Maddux, who had just turned 22 a month earlier. Maddux had a rough rookie year in 1987, but started 1988 well, and on this day he mowed down Padres for the entire day. 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. (Sound familiar?) That left things to the bottom of the 10th, led off by Ryne Sandberg. Alan Solomon, in his Tribune recap, described 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. If only the Cubs could do this in the year 2023.

There have been just five complete-game extra-inning shutouts by any MLB pitcher since 1988. The last one was in 2005:

Rk Player IP Date Age Team Opp Result App,Dec
1 Mark Mulder 10.0 2005-04-23 27-261 STL HOU W 1-0 (10) SHO(10), W
2 Roy Halladay 10.0 2003-09-06 26-115 TOR DET W 1-0 (10) SHO(10), W
3 Dave Stewart 11.0 1990-08-01 33-163 OAK SEA W 1-0 (11) SHO(11), W
4 Bruce Hurst 10.0 1988-08-07 30-136 BOS @ DET W 3-0 (10) SHO(10), W
5 Greg Maddux 10.0 1988-05-11 22-027 CHC SDP W 1-0 (10) SHO(10), W
Provided by View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 5/9/2023.

Greg Maddux’ 10-inning complete-game shutout, the last such game by any Cubs pitcher, happened 35 years ago today, Wednesday, May 11, 1988. He threw 143 pitches (91 strikes). Imagine a starting pitcher throwing that many pitches today.