As rain and darkness fell like a soggy blanket over Atlanta last Friday afternoon, two men sat in a car slogging north through downtown traffic, two men who over the past five years have accounted for every National League Cy Young Award, 181 victories and a .691 winning percentage. This is how the Atlanta Braves would win the 1995 World Series: with Tom Glavine in the driver's seat and Greg Maddux riding shotgun.
It was on their ride home from a workout that Maddux talked an uncertain Glavine into a game plan for Game 6 the following night. Glavine, having watched the Cleveland Indians get to Maddux in Game 5, wondered what adjustments the Indians had made against him with their second look. "I don't think they adjusted well," Maddux said. "I was off a bit. It was more me than it was them. Just go out and pitch your game. Don't change."
Glavine decided that he would live on the outside corner, mostly with his changeup again, even though he beat Cleveland 4-3 in Game 2 with just about no other pitch working for him. "What Greg had to say reassured me," Glavine said. "To hear it from a pitcher like him meant a lot." Glavine also remembered how Steve Avery had pitched Game 4 and won, 5-2. "Avery couldn't believe they never adjusted to his changeup," said Atlanta pitching coach Leo Mazzone. "So he just kept throwing it."
For the fourth time in five years the Braves would play a game that could bring Atlanta its first world championship. They were 0-3 in the other tries, with each game started by a different Brave pitcher and ending with the same maddening margin of defeat: a single run. This would be Glavine's first crack at the clincher.
He was ready to be rid of the blabbering Indians—who during the Series sometimes acted like louts crashing a black-tie affair—especially after reading in the morning newspaper that Cleveland's punchless shortstop, Omar Vizquel, had said of the Braves, "They know they can't win a World Series."
Said Glavine, "That statement made me madder than anything else."
So he took the mound intending to throw his best pitch, the changeup, until the Indians proved they could hit it. They never did. Glavine did not paint the lower outside corner so much as he coated it with lacquer, pitch after pitch after pitch. Asked how many times Glavine ventured inside with a delivery, Atlanta catcher Javy Lopez replied, "I can count them on one hand."
Glavine, with last-inning relief from Mark Wohlers, came within one bloop single of a no-hitter; Tony Pena's leadoff hit in the sixth—off one of those nasty changeups—checked up in centerfield like a wedge shot. Supported only by a solo home run by David Justice (page 32) in the bottom of that inning, Glavine pitched the Braves to a 1-0 victory.
Can't win a World Series? Well, shut your mouth. At last, Atlanta.
It may have been the best-pitched game among the 91 that have ended a World Series. It definitely was the only one-hitter among them. The mystery to Glavine's mastery was how the Indians could lunge and flail time and time again at pitches that almost never varied in location. "His changeup is that good," Maddux said. "He throws it with the exact same arm speed as his fastball, so it's impossible to pick up. Yeah, you may be looking for something away, but is it hard or soft? And every time he did come inside, he got them out. And that plants a seed."