Marathon Men: Record day for extra innings as Mets, Blue Jays go the distance
There was bonus baseball in abundance Saturday afternoon. The Blue Jays and Rangers battled for 18 innings, and the Mets and Marlins cracked the 20-inning mark for the first time since the Mets and Cardinals did it on Apr. 17, 2010 in a game that also ended in a 2-1 score. As a result, Saturday was the first day in major-league history to see two games go at least 18 innings, with one going even longer. The previous record for dueling marathons was the two 18-inning games on August 15, 2006.
In the shorter game, a blown save by Casey Janssen in the bottom of the ninth hit reset in Toronto, but the Blue Jays hung on to win the second nine innings 1-0 on a walkoff hit by Rajai Davis with two outs in the bottom of the 18th (actual final score: 4-3). It was a victory made possible in part by this 9-2 double play by Jose Bautista in the top of the tenth:
In the latter, or at least longer, game, a much-anticipated matchup of young pitching studs Matt Harvey and Jose Fernandez, which had been postponed by two days of rain in New York, lived up to its billing for six innings. However, after the seventh, both were out (Harvey with lower back pain that he said after the game shouldn't prevent him from making his next start), leaving a 1-1 tie in the hands of the bullpens.
The pens contributed five and six scoreless frames, but in the 13th the managers effectively hit reset in their game as well, sending out starters Kevin Slowey, for the Marlins, and Shaun Marcum, for the Mets, both of whom were working on full rest after having their scheduled starts rained out earlier in this series. At that point, a second even more impressive pitchers' duel began as neither repurposed starter allowed a run or a walk for seven innings, striking out eight and seven, respectively, to push the game to the 20th inning.
It was then that the Marlins finally broke through against Marcum in his eighth inning of work on one-out singles by Placido Polanco, Rob Brantley, and Adeiny Hechavarria, the last driving in Polanco with what proved to be the winning run after Steve Cishek retired the Mets in order in the bottom of the 20th.
Ultimately, the Mets' 2-1 loss is emblematic of the team's failures this season. In the final tally, the Mets' two starters combined to allow just two runs on 11 hits in 15 innings, striking out 13 without issuing a walk or a home run. One, Harvey, left with his eighth no-decision in his last nine starts (a stretch over which he has posted a 2.66 ERA). The other, Marcum, dropped his season ERA by three-quarters of a run, but took the loss, his seventh against no wins on the season despite posting a 3.41 ERA over his last five appearances. Marcum, incidentally, was the first pitcher to throw eight or more innings in relief since Scott Sanderson did so for the Cubs in an 18-inning loss in August of 1989.
A large reason for those hard-luck performances was the Mets' 0-for-19 performance with runners in scoring position in this game, a franchise record for single-game futility. Though, to be fair, they would have walked off in the 12th if not for this great throw by Marlins' rookie Marcell Ozuna, who did Bautista one better on the 9-2 double play:
Remarkably, things didn't get absurd in either game. No position players pitched, unlike in the Mets' 20-inning victory over the Cardinals in 2010 in which the Cardinals used their bench players for three innings on the mound, and there were no game-tying rallies in extra innings, unlike in the century's longest game, a 22-inning contest between the Rockies and Padres in 2008 (coincidentally also on Apr. 17) in which both teams scored their first run in the 14th. No one played out of position. The Blue Jays and Rangers only used three bench players a piece, and thanks to a seven-inning start from Yu Darvish and 6 2/3 innings of relief from Ross Wolf, the Rangers only used five pitchers. There wasn't even a notable Munenori Kawasaki GIF to come out of the 18 innings in Toronto, at least not that I've seen.