Monday, August 11, 2014

Game of the Day (8/10/14)

Blue Jays 6, Tigers 5 (19). As of the end of play on August 8, there had been no games longer than 16 innings in the 2014 regular season. Over the next two days, two different games went 19.

Unsurprisingly, both of them were really good. This one would have been worthy of some pregame hype as regular season games go, as it was between two quality teams and the starters were both excellent lefties (Mark Buehrle for Toronto facing the recently-acquired David Price for Detroit).

Buehrle retired the first two Tigers he faced, but it took him a while to get the third. Miguel Cabrera hit a two-out single, and Victor Martinez reached on a Jose Reyes error; Torii Hunter then singled to load the bases, and JD Martinez and Nick Castellanos followed with singles of their own, scoring three runs between them. Price allowed a Melky Cabrera single and walked Danny Valencia before stranding them both. After a perfect second from Buehrle, Price started the bottom of the inning by walking Nolan Reimold, then left him on as well.

Detroit extended its lead in the third, starting with singles by Cabrera (Miguel) and Martinez (Victor). Martinez (JD) then doubled Cabrera home before Buehrle stranded both Martinezes in scoring position. The Tigers scored again in the fourth on doubles by Andrew Romine and Ian Kinsler, making the lead 5-0 and chasing Buehrle from the mound; Todd Redmond ended the inning with no further scoring. Meanwhile, Price worked 1-2-3 innings in the third and fifth, and allowed only a Valencia single in the fourth. Castellanos doubled in the fifth, and Rajai Davis walked in the sixth, but Redmond worked around both runners to keep the score as it was when he entered.

Toronto finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth when Valencia doubled and Dioner Navarro homered. Aaron Sanchez relieved Redmond and worked a spotless seventh, and Price was pulled in the bottom of the inning after Shawn Tolleson walked and Colby Rasmus singled. Phil Coke replaced Price and drew a forceout from Munenori Kawasaki, but Jose Reyes and Cabrera (Melky) singled in a run each, pulling the Jays within one. Sanchez allowed a Castellanos single in the eighth, Al Alburquerque retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning, and Sanchez kept the bases clear in the ninth.

Joba Chamberlain took the mound in the home ninth, and was greeted by a pinch single from Anthony Gose. Gose stole second while Rasmus struck out, and after the second out, Reyes singled Gose home to tie the game. A pair of walks (the second an intentional pass of Jose Bautista) loaded the bases for Juan Francisco, who struck out to send the game to extras.

Brett Cecil allowed a Hunter single in the tenth, while Blaine Hardy gave up a hit to Navarro in the bottom of the inning; Hunter was left on, and Navarro's pinch runner Marcus Stroman was removed on a double play. Cecil allowed an Alex Avila double in the eleventh and was supplanted by Dustin McGowan, who stranded the runner at second. Hardy worked a spotless bottom of the eleventh. In the twelfth, a Victor Martinez walk and a Hunter single put the go-ahead run in scoring position, but Aaron Loup relieved McGowan and struck out Don Kelly to end the threat. The bottom of the inning brought a Melky Cabrera single, a passed ball, and a Francisco walk before Hardy managed to retire the side.

Casey Janssen walked Bryan Holaday with one out in the thirteenth. Romine followed with a single that moved Holaday to third, but was thrown out trying for second on the play, and Holaday would end the inning 90 feet away. With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Pat McCoy walked Kawasaki, allowed a single to Reyes, and walked Melky Cabrera to load the bases before getting Bautista to ground out. Miguel Cabrera reached on a Francisco error against Chad Jenkins in the fourteenth, and Hunter singled him to second before Kelly flied out to leave them on. McCoy walked Reimold in the bottom of the inning, but allowed nothing else.

Jenkins was perfect in the fifteenth, and Rasmus led off the bottom of the inning with a double. Two outs later, McCoy intentionally walked Melky Cabrera and Bautista, and Francisco once again failed to make the Tigers pay for the strategy, grounding out to end the inning. Singles by Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera and an intentional pass to Victor Martinez loaded the bases with one out in the sixteenth, but Hunter hit into a 1-2-3 DP. Joe Nathan relieved McCoy in the bottom of the inning and allowed a Gose single-and-steal before leaving him at second.

Jenkins allowed a Holaday single and nothing else in inning 17. Rick Porcello took over in the bottom of the inning, and began his outing by allowing a Reyes single and a Melky Cabrera walk. A flyout, a forceout, and defensive indifference put the runners at second and third before Josh Thole grounded out to strand them. Jenkins gave up singles to Kinsler and Martinez in the eighteenth, while Porcello set the Jays down in order. Kelly led off the nineteenth with a single and stole second before being left there.

Kawasaki led off the bottom of the nineteenth with a hit. Reyes bunted back to the mound, and Porcello committed a throwing error on the play that allowed the runners to reach the corners safely. Melky Cabrera was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Bautista followed with a walkoff single.

Nineteen innings. 43 total runners left on base. 40 combined at bats with runners in scoring position - in fact, each team went exactly 5 for 20. 19 walks, seven of them intentional; that's got to be approaching the record for intentional walks in a game, I'd think. And, most importantly for the outcome, 15.2 scoreless innings (despite 13 hits and 5 walks allowed) from 7 Blue Jay relievers, including 2.2 from Todd Redmond, 3 from Aaron Sanchez, and a career-high 6 innings from last-man-standing Chad Jenkins. (Six was his career best despite the fact that he's started several games in his career; none of those outings has lasted more than five.)

This game scores a remarkable 9.76 WPL; that makes it the best game of 2014 so far by a wide margin, and one of the 5-10 best in my entire not-quite-six-full-seasons database.

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