Now there is a sentence I never thought I would write and you probably never thought you would read.
I could do a number of things with this recap. I could just post a whole bunch of videos, because this game certainly had more than its share of highlights. I could post a selection of tweets with all the various records set. I could just go through the numbers of this game, and there were many.
Let’s start with this number: it was one of just four games in the history of Wrigley Field that lasted six hours or longer. The others, the first two of which were suspended and completed later before lights were installed at Wrigley Field, are:
- A 21-inning, 2-1 loss to the Dodgers on August 21-22, 1982
- A 17-inning, 10-8 loss to the Pirates that began on April 20, 1986 and was completed almost four months later on August 11
- The famous John Baker Game, a 4-3 win over the Rockies on July 29, 2014
It was also the 11th game in the history of Wrigley Field that lasted 18 innings or more, and first in nearly 31 years. Here’s the complete list of those games.
|5||1973-06-27 (2)||CHC||MON||L 4-5||18.0||15||5||5|
|11||1916-06-28 (2)||CHC||PIT||L 2-3||18.0||12||3||3|
(Four of those games, the ones from 1973-86, were suspended and finished at a later date.)
I feel like posting even more numbers now. Sunday night’s marathon set some strikeout records:
Yankees-Cubs is 1st game in MLB history in which each team struck out at least 21 times— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 8, 2017
44 K now by Cubs and Yankees combined, breaking the MLB record set in 1971 by the Angels and Athletics https://t.co/Kpah5Pe72D— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 8, 2017
The teams wound up with 48 combined K’s. And thank you, Yankees, for being the visiting team:
This is the longest interleague game in MLB history (18 innings)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 8, 2017
The game? Oh, yes, the game. It began with yet another first-inning run when the first three Yankees reached off Jon Lester on a single, walk and single. One run scored on a groundout by Starlin Castro, but it might have been worse except that Willson Contreras picked off Jacoby Ellsbury.
Two innings later Javier Baez hit one of the weirdest home runs I’ve ever seen [VIDEO].
He had just fouled a ball off his foot, stayed in the game, and then hit a towering fly ball that Yankees left fielder Aaron Hicks couldn’t find. It was almost funny — Hicks stood there with his arms outstretched while Ellsbury raced over from center field. The ball, though, landed in the seats. Here’s just how high that went:
Javier Baez with an absolute moon shot. 104.5 MPH at a 39 degree launch angle... Max height 143ft.— Daren Willman (@darenw) May 8, 2017
So it was 1-1 after three. And Lester had settled down. He retired 17 of the next 18 batters after those first three reached in the first inning, allowing just a third-inning walk.
And then his defense deserted him. Kris Bryant fielded a little grounder that wasn’t too much different than the ball that he scooped up to win the World Series last November. He probably should have eaten the ball; Starlin Castro, the hitter, would have easily been safe on a good throw. Instead, he threw it away and Castro wound up on second. It wound up not mattering as the next hitter, Aaron Judge, smashed a triple to deep center field, a ball that Jon Jay couldn’t quite catch up to. Here’s a possible reason why:
Jon Jay's route on Aaron Judge's triple... Not great pic.twitter.com/xwGNMdz3yz— Daren Willman (@darenw) May 8, 2017
So it’s 2-1. And then Justin Grimm, just recalled before Sunday’s game, quickly made it 4-1. Brett Gardner singled as a pinch-hitter leading off the eighth and Ellsbury smoked a homer to right.
Grimm has not been good this year. Granted, he was available after being recalled, but that might have been a better situation for, say, Koji Uehara.
With the Cubs having to face Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman in the eighth and ninth, the chances of a comeback did not look promising. They managed two baserunners with one out in the eighth off Betances, but could not score.
It was the ninth inning that was one of the most impressive recent performances by a Cubs team, especially off Chapman.
Addison Russell drew a walk to lead off the inning and Jay singled. After Chapman struck out Contreras, Albert Almora Jr. singled in Russell to make it 4-2.
Then Baez had one of the better at-bats you’ll ever see off Chapman. Of course, his first swing was one of Javy’s patented “I want to hit a 900-foot home run” swings. He did nearly the same thing on the next pitch. Down 0-2, he fouled off a fastball, looked at two pitches outside the zone, fouled off two more Chapman offerings and then bounced a slider into left field, scoring Jay to make it 4-3.
Chapman struck out Kyle Schwarber and then the Yankees gave a Manfred to Kris Bryant after Chapman ran the count on him to 3-1. That loaded the bases for Anthony Rizzo.
Chapman’s first pitch to Rizzo hit him on the forearm [VIDEO] and the game was tied. Rizzo fell to his knees and appeared in pain, but he stayed in the game.
Little did he know that he’d be in the game for three more hours.
With the bases still loaded and two out, Chapman was lifted for Tyler Clippard, who got Ben Zobrist to ground to second and on to extras the game went on a night when the game-time temperature was 43 degrees. Trust me, that number did not go higher as the innings went on.
As extras began, that’s when the strikeout-fest that ended in a record 48 combined K’s began. Wade Davis struck out all three Yankees he faced in the 10th. Clippard returned the favor in the bottom of the inning, and Carl Edwards Jr. did the same in the top of the 11th. Almora struck out to begin the bottom of the 11th, the 10th consecutive batter to K.
The Cubs had a really good chance to win the game in the 12th. Rizzo led off the inning with a double and went to third on a fly to left by pinch-hitter Miguel Montero.
With one out, all that was needed was a medium-deep fly ball. But Russell was called out on strikes and after Jay was given a Manfred, Contreras grounded to first to end the inning.
Before that, though, in the top of that inning Schwarber made one of the best catches you will ever see [VIDEO].
Of course, the first thing I (and, probably, you) worried about when Kyle fell into the stands is, “Don’t get hurt!” But, he got up quickly and remained in the game. That catch was made almost exactly where the bullpen mound used to be.
The next real scoring threat was in the 16th. The Yankees got a runner to second with one out, but Brian Duensing (who now hasn’t allowed a run in his last six appearances covering eight innings) got out of it with a foul popup and a strikeout.
The Cubs didn’t get a baserunner beyond first base from the 13th through the 17th inning.
Then came the 18th. Hicks led off with a bunt down the third-base line. Again, this is a ball that should never have been thrown. Hicks was going to beat the play. But Contreras threw the ball away and Hicks took second. He was sacrificed to third and up came Starlin Castro [VIDEO].
Russell’s off-balance throw home was off line and the Yankees had a 5-4 lead.
The Cubs managed to get a pair of runners on in the bottom of the 18th. WIth two out, Bryant walked and Rizzo was given a Manfred — good thing we had four of those in this game, that saved, oh, probably two minutes out of a six hour, five minute game — because the Cubs had no one but pitchers left to pinch-hit.
This is an inevitable result of having too-large bullpens and not enough bench players. The only position player on either side who didn’t get into this game was Jason Heyward, who didn’t start due to a finger injury suffered on Friday. Heyward was supposedly available to pinch-hit, but didn’t.
This meant that Jake Arrieta, John Lackey and Hendricks had to bat. Arrieta struck out with a runner on first in the 14th. Lackey struck out with a runner on first in the 16th (another Manfred issued in order to pitch to him).
And Hendricks struck out to end the game. It would have been nice to have someone else available to pinch-hit. Granted, Heyward was clearly not available or he certainly would have been in the game. But I think you can see how having to send three pitchers up to pinch-hit is not optimal.
This one could have gone either team’s way a number of times. Credit to the Cubs for that ninth-inning comeback. In 396 career appearances by Chapman, this was just the seventh time any team had scored three or more runs off him (and second time by a Cubs team; they also did it May 3, 2013 in a game they wound up losing 6-5).
Two buses sat out on Waveland across from the Cubs’ new office building for about three and a half hours Sunday night waiting to take the team to O’Hare Airport for their flight to Denver to begin a six-game road trip Monday night. I’m guessing the Cubs didn’t get to their Denver hotel until well after 6 a.m. local time, maybe even later. They’ll be a tired bunch tonight.
And having gone through the entire bullpen (except Hector Rondon), they will probably need to make another roster move before Monday’s game. I suspect that Grimm, just recalled, will be heading back to Des Moines for another stint with Triple-A Iowa. (Not because of his poor performance Sunday, but because he’s the only guy with options, excepting Edwards, who isn’t going anywhere.)
Possible recalls include Pierce Johnson, Jack Leathersich and David Rollins.
Whoever comes up will be joining a team obviously frustrated by this tough loss, and a team in need of a long outing by Arrieta, scheduled to start Monday night’s game against the Rockies.
The Cubs dropped to third place with the defeat, one game behind the first-place Reds (and no, I don’t think that’s going to last).
For me personally, it was the second-longest game by time that I’d ever attended (the John Baker Game is the longest) and the second 18-inning affair I’d seen in person, and first in one piece. The other one (noted in the list above) was started September 2, 1986 and completed the next day. That was a game most notable for the major-league debut of Greg Maddux, whose first appearance on a big-league field was as a pinch-runner.
The slogan “WE NEVER QUIT” was placed on the World Series rings the Cubs received earlier this year for their Series win last year. They proved that slogan with that ninth-inning comeback. They’ll need to pick up each other yet again from this loss and sweep at the hands of the Yankees.
I have no doubt they can do it. The series against the Rockies begins at 7:40 p.m. CT Monday, with Arrieta on the mound for the Cubs and Antonio Senzatela for the Rockies.