On the night the Atlanta Braves finally won their first World Series, they did so with the perfect left-handed complement. The perfect man for the moment, Tom Glavine was near-perfection on the mound, too.
The senior Brave in terms of service became something far more everlasting Saturday: the first Atlanta pitcher to win the World Series. Glavine held Cleveland hitless through five innings and allowed only one hit through eight to beat the Indians 1-0 in Game 6 and give Atlanta its first world championship.
Glavine was magnificent. He faced just 27 batters, walked three and allowed only one hit — Tony Pena’s soft single to center field to lead off the sixth inning. The left-hander struck out eight, allowed but one runner to reach second base and absolutely baffled baseball’s most potent lineup. He earned his second victory of the World Series and was chosen the Series' most valuable player.
And all through the night, the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium crowd of 51,875 — some of whom had booed Glavine here on Opening Day, when the Braves' player representative was introduced — roared its approval of him.
On the eve of Game 6, Glavine had called this “a unique opportunity .... what it’s all about.” He’d said that ever since Cleveland beat Greg Maddux and the Braves on Thursday to send the Series back to Atlanta, many people had approached him and termed this “the perfect game for me to pitch.” For most of the night, that is what Glavine pitched. A near-perfect game.
But then, manager Bobby Cox knew exactly who was starting Saturday. “A big, huge part of the franchise,” Cox had called Glavine. “A stabilizer” and the most consistent pitcher in the National League the past five years.
“He’s been a tough guy,” Cox said. “He’s been a great team leader and a good representative for the city of Atlanta. He puts everything into it.”
This was the game Glavine didn’t get to pitch in 1992. He was then the scheduled starter for Game 7 of the World Series, only to watch Toronto win Game 6 and the world championship. But this time, this game, belonged to Glavine.
He was far sharper than in Game 2. He beat the Indians 4-3 that night, but in seven innings allowed five hits and three runs (two earned) while striking out just three. Glavine was admittedly tiring that night.
This time, Glavine had command of his fastball, took command of the inside part of the plate and kept his pitches down. And, as usual, his circle change had hitters going in circles.
Through the first five innings, Glavine rendered Cleveland hitless in Atlanta. Indeed, clueless in Atlanta. After Kenny Lofton lofted a fly ball to right field to lead off the game, only one batter in next the 14 even got the ball out of the infield, Carlos Baerga flying to center to end the fourth.
Only Pena got a hit off Glavine, singling to open the sixth. Only Lofton, who forced Pena at second, reached second.
Otherwise, Glavine was ... perfect.
Game 1: Greg Maddux pitches 2-hit masterpiece
Game 2: Javy Lopez puts Atlanta in command
Game 3: John Smoltz battles the elements
Game 4: Spark from surprising starters
Game 5: No clincher for Maddux