As part of the Astros' 50th anniversary, the weekly "Game to Remember" series features a former Astros/Colt .45s great discussing his favorite game while playing for the Houston franchise. This week: Shane Reynolds
In his stellar career as an Astros starting pitcher, Shane Reynolds pitched 20 complete games. That's not an eye-popping number, but the squared-shouldered Reynolds was as steady as they come for a decade in Houston's rotation and was a key figure in the team's playoff runs of the late 1990s.
Reynolds certainly had more dominating performances than he did on May 6, 1998, when he threw a complete game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field and struck out 10 batters. He allowed eight hits and only one earned run while walking just two batters in an outing that went rather unnoticed.
The game, played on a cloudy afternoon in one of baseball's cathedrals, turned out to be one of the most memorable in history, but not for what Reynolds did. Well, other than Reynolds striking out looking on three pitches in the sixth inning.
Game to Remember
Shane Reynolds facts and figures
1. Full name: Richard Shane Reynolds.
2. Game to Remember: May 6, 1998 (Cubs 2, Astros 0).
14. Claim to fame: Reynolds co-held the Astros record of starting five consecutive Opening Day games (1996-2000) before Roy Oswalt started eight in a row.
15. Did you know? Reynolds attended the University of Texas and was a two-time All-Southwest Conference selection.
16. What's he doing now? Reynolds is retired and lives in the Houston area.
Reynolds went down in the record books as one of the strikeout victims at the hands of Cubs fireballer Kerry Wood, who tied a Major League record that day when he whiffed 20 batters. Wood's performance obviously overshadowed anything Reynolds did, but combining to strike out 30 batters in one game didn't make it any less memorable for the Astros pitcher.
"A lot of times, on [ESPN] Classic, they don't show me, they just show Kerry striking everybody out," Reynolds said. "That game sticks in my mind a lot."
Reynolds struck out only once in two plate appearances against Wood, putting down a sacrifice bunt in the third inning (more on that later). Wood struck out the first five batters he faced and eight of the final nine batters, fanning Derek Bell swinging to end the game and tie Roger Clemens' record for strikeouts in a game.
"It was one of the all-time greatest performances," Reynolds said.
While Wood was holding the Astros to one hit, Reynolds gave up a run in the second inning and another in the eighth, and the quick pace of the game -- it was played in 2 hours, 19 minutes -- allowed Reynolds to get into a nice rhythm himself.
"As a pitcher, you see [Wood] doing what he's doing and you know you're going to have to have your best stuff, because he's not giving up anything," Reynolds said. "It was a great game. He pitched a complete game, I pitched a complete game. It was 2-0 with 30 strikeouts combined."
The way Reynolds remembers things, Wood would have likely struck out at least one more batter -- probably Reynolds himself -- had Astros shortstop Ricky Gutierrez not began the third inning with a single that was Houston's only hit of the game.
Gutierrez's single off third baseman Kevin Orie's glove could have been ruled an error, but it stood as the only hit of the game.
"I thought it was an error," Reynolds said.
With Gutierrez on first, Brad Ausmus struck out swinging, allowing Reynolds to put down a sacrifice bunt to move Gutierrez to second base.
"[Wood] probably would have struck out 21 or 22 if [Orie] would have been able to make that play because I wouldn't have had to bunt, and I would have probably struck out," Reynolds joked. "But [Gutierrez] got on, so I had to bunt."