So fierce was the pitching that the game could have been played inside the Braves' postgame party tent without disturbing the buffalo meat carving station. Sixty-one batters went to the plate, and only seven put the ball out of the infield. The clubs combined for only five hits; no World Series game has produced fewer. "It's great for the game," said Atlanta pitching coach Leo Mazzone, "to see two masters of their craft on top of their game like that."
Mostly, the game belonged to Maddux, whose first opportunity in a World Series further confirmed his place among the alltime great pitchers. He came within one flubbed grounder and two opposite-field singles of throwing a perfect game against a lineup with seven .300 hitters. He was so good that he threw only 32 balls, and the late movement on his pitches caused so many futile swings and broken bats that the Indians lost count of the kindling; estimates from their clubhouse ranged from six to more than 10. "The ball is there, and then it's not there," said Indian catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. "I've never seen anything like it."
In one typical example of his brilliance, Maddux struck out Manny Ramirez in the fifth inning with three straight sinking fastball that painted an imaginary ellipsis (dot-dot dot) across the lower boundary of the strike zone, each fastball only inches farther outside than the last. Wonderstruck, Ramirez never moved the bat off his shoulder.
"That was the best pitched game I have ever seen," said Cleveland coach Budd; Bell, who broke into the majors in 1972. " don't know how you can be more perfect."
"Tell Buddy, when you see 700 innings of Maddux, you see a lot of that," Mazzone said. "You're at a loss for words. I don' know what to say anymore."
The placid Maddux, who reported to work that night wearing glasses, a Bugs Bunny T-shirt and a Mickey Mouse cap, admitted it was "my best game ever, everything considered." He ripped down the lineup card from the dugout wall to present to his father. He kept the ball from the final out for himself.
Maddux dismissed Cleveland with 95 pitches, or four fewer than lefthander Tom Glavine needed on Sunday night to slog through six innings in Game 2. Unlike Maddux, Glavine often missed with his pitches early in the count. Even then, Glavine refused to abandon his changeup or the perimeter of the plate. "Staying stubborn on the edge," Mazzone called it. "He doesn't give in. If he misses, he moves the ball inches in, not over the heart of the plate."
Catcher Javy Lopez earned Glavine the 4-3 win when he broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth with a two-run home run off another gassed Cleveland pitcher, 40-year-old Dennis Martinez. It marked the 15th time in 27 postseason games this year that the outcome was decided by one run or in a team's last at bat.
Baseball in October looks familiar. It is the best all the king's horses and all the king's men can do. "Ten days," Hershiser said of the World Series, if it lasts that long, "to forget about labor strife and enjoy the perfection of the game."
Said John Smoltz, Atlanta's scheduled starting pitcher for Game 3, "There is no lead, no out, no inning that's going to be safe in this Series."