It sure was. These playoffs had everything: love, hate, heroes, goats, suspense and a few scenes from The Natural. Nobody thought they could top Act IV, but they did in Act V.
The fifth game should have been over in the first inning. Gary Matthews of the Cubs drew a walk, and Durham clocked Eric Show's 3-1 fastball into the seats in right center. Pitching for Chicago was Sutcliffe, 16-1 since joining the Cubs in June and the 13-0 winner of Game 1.
Chicago added another run in the second on Davis's homer inside the foul pole in left. Sutcliffe breezed through the first five innings, allowing only two infield hits. But in the bottom of the sixth inning, as the William Tell Overture blared from the loudspeakers, the Padre fans got into the act. They cheered as Alan Wiggins opened San Diego's turn at bat with a perfect bunt and roared with every subsequent development. Tony Gwynn singled to left. Garvey walked on four pitches. With the bases loaded and none out, Nettles hit a sacrifice fly deep to center. Terry Kennedy hit a line drive to left that Matthews had to backhand and dive for. It was a terrific catch, but it didn't prevent Gwynn from tagging up at third and coming home. The score was now 3-2.
In the meantime, the Padre middle relievers, the unsung heroes of the playoffs, held down the Cubs. Then came the seventh-inning wretch. Sutcliffe walked lead-off hitter Carmelo Martinez on four pitches. Garry Templeton sacrificed him to second, bringing pinch hitter Tim Flannery to the plate. Flannery hit a ground ball that skipped off the lip of the grass and scooted under Durham's glove and between his legs into right to tie the score. "It was my first error all year with the glove," said Durham.
Wiggins followed with a chip shot single to left. Then Gwynn ripped a scorcher at the feet of second baseman Ryne Sandberg. "I played it down, and it went straight up," said Sandberg. "If I catch the ball, it's a double play. No question about that." But the ball went into right center for a double, scoring two runs. Garvey then singled off the mound, bringing in Gwynn. For Garvey, it was his seventh RBI of the series. Frey finally relieved Sutcliffe with Steve Trout. "He had good stuff, he was the best pitcher in the league the last three months, and he wasn't being hit hard," said Frey, explaining his decision to keep him in there. "I thought he'd pitch out of the inning."
After the game, Sutcliffe, a stand-up guy, was very hard on himself. "I just didn't do the job, and I blame nobody but myself," he said. "It doesn't matter what I did during the regular season. There'll be a loss beside my name in the box score tomorrow, and that's where it belongs."
The Padres left it up to Gossage to save the victory, and he barely held the Cubs at bay. In the eighth, Matthews came to the plate, representing the tying run. He struck out. In the Chicago ninth, Durham hit a slicing liner that Gwynn caught in the Cub bullpen in right. Keith Moreland singled, but Ron Cey popped up to his old Dodger teammate, Garvey, and Davis hit a fielder's-choice grounder to Nettles. Cubs busted.
"These were the greatest playoffs I've ever seen," said Garvey. "We were hoping to create history, and we did."
"I know one thing," said Kennedy. "We took the '69 Cubs off the hook."
"Nobody gave us a chance but the fans," said Gwynn. "They believed in us, and we started to believe in us."