Ten years ago tonight, a Maddux masterpiece

Thanks to Hardball Times for the reminder. I’m not sure  I’d call it Maddux’s greatest game ever — his 76-pitch complete game against the Cubs and 84-pitch shutout vs. the Yankees in 1997 are tough to beat. That year Mad Dog had only ONE 3-0 count.

But he was pretty damn impressive on May 2, 2001, recording 14 strikeouts en route to his 100th career complete game. Against the Brewers, coincidentally.The Braves entered the game three games under .500 and trotted out a line-up including B.J. Surhoff, whose solo homer accounted for the game’s only run, batting clean-up and ending with Rico Brogna, Keith “Capt. Mediocre” Lockhart and Paul Bako.

As if achieving all-time one-game peaks in strikeouts and game scores en route to a 1-0 complete game shutout wasn’t enough, Maddux also banged out a hit of his own at the plate. Plus, he had a sacrifice hit. Neither his hit nor his SH led to Atlanta’s only run (that was courtesy of a B. J. Surhoff solo shot in the second inning), but it was an overall fantastic day for Maddux.

He got better as he went along, retired the last 13 batters of the game, eight of whom Maddux fanned, including six in a row at one point.

Bizarre fact: Maddux walked the game’s leadoff hitter. Not only was that the only walk (and one of only three baserunners) he allowed all day, but Maddux rarely ever walked the leadoff batter. He did that in only 14 of his 740 starts, just once ever 53 starts. He’d only done it once in the previous seven seasons (though, to be fair, it was the year before).

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7 Comments on Ten years ago tonight, a Maddux masterpiece

  1. I’m guessing there are a good number of dates in the baseball season where you could say “X years ago Greg Maddux pitched a masterpiece”

  2. Jack Straw // May 3, 2011 at 6:41 am //

    I watched the man pitch for years, but those numbers still amaze me.

  3. fonsie18 // May 3, 2011 at 7:11 am //

    Jack–I second that. He was shockingly good in the heart of the steroid era.

    I wouldn’t go as far as saying he was overlooked or undervalued or anything, but because he was quietly so good for so long seems to put him below the radar for many, especially compared to the egotistical assholes like Clemens, Bonds, etc. Anyway, my point is that those numbers do a great job of openings eyes for anyone who needs proof of his greatness.

  4. Viva Rufino Linares! // May 3, 2011 at 7:49 am //

    I still shake my head in amazement at recaps like this. Damn, I miss seeing him pitch. It was pure artistry.

  5. That he seemed so effortless in doing what he did is the reason he will always be my favourite player of all time. In retrospect, that he was that good when he did it (@fonsie18) is what makes him not only the best pitcher of his era, but perhaps of any era: not only is he the sort of guy that used guile over brawn, but you can envision him as the sort of guy that would evolve as the game evolved. No one ever “figured out” Mad Dog, he always figured you out.

  6. I think he’d be an outstanding manager. If he was interested, I wouldn’t hesitate hiring him.

  7. tokyokie // May 4, 2011 at 9:33 am //

    I’ve most of the last 20 years in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where folks think that Nolan Ryan defined pitching greatness. No, he struck out a buttload of guys, but he was never the pitcher Maddox was.

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