Whoever it was that said baseball is so much fun, so “Let’s play two,” probably didn’t mean two games worth of innings in one game. But that’s what ended up happening with this game. Jack Flaherty had a no-hitter going until the bottom of the 7th inning and a slim 1-run lead. But Andrew Miller continued his homer-happy ways, and the game ended up lasting 6 hours and 53 minutes and 19 innings. The Cards took the lead in the top of the 13th inning, but Gant and Fernandez couldn’t hold it. Then Brebbia allowed the final run in the bottom of the 19th.
But what stood out about this game was not the records, but the fact that there were no double switches by either side. Shildt had all 8 of our position players, including our 37-year old catcher, play every one of the 19 innings of the ball game. The Cards used 5 pinch hitters, but not one of them stayed in the game to give our regulars some rest. Maybe Shildt had a master plan all along to start a bunch of bench players in the day game on September 25th before the day off, but I still found it very odd. I wonder if a game has lasted this long in the last 30-40 years where a positional substitution was not made.
Dexter Fowler led off the game by launching an inside 2-1 slider from Diamondbacks’ starter Mike Leake into the seats in right-center field for a solo HR to give the Cards a 1-0 lead.
26th career lead-off for number 2⃣5⃣ pic.twitter.com/2jMNuPCIru— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 25, 2019
Leake settled down and retired the rest of the Cards in order. Jack Flaherty would retire the Diamondbacks in order in each of the first 3 innings with 1 strikeout each. With 1 out in the top of the 2nd, Matt Carpenter sliced a low changeup for a bloop base hit to left that Josh Rojas dove for but could only trap. Paul DeJong walked. Harrison Bader hit a ball that was home run distance, but foul. After that, he ended up tapping an outside slider to the right of the mound for an out that advanced the runners to 2nd and 3rd. Flaherty popped out to 2nd to end the inning. Leake would go on to retire the Cards in order in the top of the 3rd and the top of the 4th, the latter half-inning with 2 strikeouts.
After Abraham Almonte popped out to 3rd base to lead off the bottom of the 4th, Flaherty walked Domingo Leyba, despite the fact that he had Leyba behind in the count 0-2 and that Leyba swung at an 0-1 curveball that bounced at least a foot in front of the plate. Eduardo Escobar walked on 5 pitches. But Flaherty bore down and struck out Jake Lamb and Rojas on 6 total pitches to end the inning. With 2 out in the top of the 5th, Flaherty tried to help himself out by chopping an outside fastball to the right side of the infield. Leyba ran to get it and made a good throw on the run, but Flaherty beat it out for an infield hit. Fowler worked a 3-2 walk. Edman sharply grounded a first-pitch fastball to Lamb at 1st base, that Lamb bobbled but recovered. Leake raced over to cover the bag and stepped on first base a split second before Edman did and the inning was over. Flaherty retired the Diamondbacks in order in the bottom of the 5th with 1 strikeout.
Paul Goldschmidt lined an outside cutter to right-center for a base hit to lead off the top of the 6th, but he was erased when Marcell Ozuna grounded a high-and-outside cutter for a 4-3 double play. The defense had Ozuna positioned perfectly up the middle. Leyba stepped on the bag, avoided Goldschmidt (who was running on the 3-2 pitch) and threw to first to complete the double play. Yadier Molina lined a low curveball down the left field line for a double, but Carpenter lined out to 2nd base to end the inning. Flaherty struck out the side in the bottom of the 6th. With Leake at 95 pitches, the Diamondbacks pinch hit for him in the last half-inning. Righty Yoan Lopez came out for the top of the 7th. With 1 out, Bader grounded a slider into the shift on the left side of the infield. Leyba had to dive for it near the hole and grabbed it, but had no chance to get Bader, who reached with an infield single. Flaherty bunted a fastball a little too hard and right to the pitcher Lopez, who grabbed it immediately, turned and fired to 2nd base to nip Bader for the force. Fowler struck out looking at an outside fastball to end the inning that looked like it was a few inches off the plate. To lead off the bottom of the 7th, Escobar sharply grounded a slider towards first base. It bounced once on the corner of the grass and took an odd hop. Goldschmidt’s momentum took him to his left, and when he tried to adjust to the ricochet, he slipped. He tried to barehand the ball to compensate, but he missed and Escobar ended up with a single that broke up Flaherty’s no-hitter. Flaherty retired the rest of the side in order with 2 more strikeouts to make 11 on the night.
Strike out number 1⃣1⃣ for Jack Flaherty! pic.twitter.com/sPFbbIA0LC— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 25, 2019
Righty Stefan Crichton came out to pitch the top of the 8th. After Edman struck out, Goldschmidt grounded an outside fastball back to the mound. Crichton stuck his glove out and stopped the ball, but didn’t come up with it initially. He then went forward to get it and fired to 1st, but the umpire called Goldschmidt safe. The Diamondbacks challenged the call, and it was clear that Goldschmidt was out by a step. Ozuna grounded a first-pitch inside fastball for Escobar at 3rd base toward the line. He fielded it but bounced the throw to Lamb at 1st and Lamb couldn’t come up with the scoop. The ball trickled towards the Cardinal dugout down the line, but never went out of play. No one was backing up the play, and Lamb was not in any hurry to get it. Ozuna kept running and went all the way to 3rd base. But the Cards couldn’t score him, as Molina struck out swinging at a curveball to end the inning. With Flaherty at 98 pitches, Shildt felt like he had done enough, and brought Giovanny Gallegos in to pitch the bottom of the 8th. Gallegos retired the side in order.
Lefty T.J. McFarland came out for the top of the 9th to pitch to Carpenter. After Carpenter grounded out, righty Jimmie Sherfy came in to pitch. DeJong struck out swinging at a slider in the dirt and Bader grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning. Shildt elected to bring Miller in for the save opportunity in the bottom of the 9th with Carlos Martinez taxed heavily the last week. The top of the lineup was set to come to bat, but the Diamondbacks used some pinch hitters. Righty Christian Walker pinch hit for Almonte and struck out looking at an outside 3-2 slider. Walker thought he had the walk, and the pitch did look a bit outside. Ildemaro Vargas pinch hit for Leyba (one switch-hitter for another) and hit a hanging slider just over the left-center field wall for a solo HR to tie the game 1-1.
Vargas steps up... Vargas sees pitch... Vargas hits solo homer!!!!! TIE GAME AT CHASE FIELD. pic.twitter.com/IwmDFI3jGP— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) September 25, 2019
Escobar flied out to center. Righty Adam Jones pinch hit for Lamb and struck out swinging at an outside slider to take us to extra innings. The Diamondbacks have already used 5 pinch hitters.
For the top of the 10th, Walker stayed in the game in the #1 spot to play 1B, Vargas stayed in the game in the #2 spot to play 2B, and Jones stayed in the game in the #4 spot to play RF. Righty Archie Bradley came out to pitch. Jose Martinez pinch hit for Miller and struck out swinging at a low fastball. Fowler and Edman both struck out as well to end the inning. Tyler Webb came out for the top of the 10th. After Rojas grounded an inside fastball to 2nd for the first out and Carson Kelly was announced as a pinch hitter for Alex Avila, Shildt brought in Ryan Helsley. After Helsley threw 2 sliders off the plate outside, the training staff came out to check on him, accompanied by pitching coach Mike Maddux, but he turned out to be fine, and it was unclear why they came out. Kelly lined out to left and Nick Ahmed popped out to DeJong in the outfield grass to end the inning. The Diamondbacks only have 2 more position players available on the bench.
For the top of the 11th, Kelly stayed in the game to catch and righty Matt Andriese came out to pitch. Goldschmidt struck out swinging at an outside 95-mph fastball. Ozuna walked. Molina grounded a first-pitch low changeup up the middle for a base hit past the glove of the diving Vargas that moved Ozuna to 3rd base. But the Cards could not take advantage. Carpenter swung and missed at 3 changeups, one of which was center-cut, and the other two of which were almost in the dirt. With DeJong at the plate, Molina advanced to 2nd on defensive indifference. But DeJong struck out swinging at a high-and-outside fastball to end the inning. Helsley came back out for the bottom of the 11th. Jarrod Dyson tried to bunt for a base hit on the first pitch, but Helsley fielded it towards the first base line right away and flipped to first for the out. Tim Locastro pinch hit for the pitcher Andriese and softly lined an inside 99-mph fastball through the hole to left for a base hit. Walker struck out looking at a hanging slider. Next, the Cards caught a break. Vargas chopped an outside 99-mph fastball off of home plate and very high to the mound. Helsley tried to barehand it, but he dropped it. Locastro continued to race around 2nd base and headed for 3rd. Helsley picked the ball up, spun around and fired to DeJong at 3rd, who hustled to cover the bag. Locastro actually beat the throw, but his left hand slipped off the base. DeJong maintained the tag, and Locastro was called out. Vargas was credited with a single, but the inning was over.
Righty Taylor Clarke came out to pitch the top of the 12th. Bader grounded out to short, with the throw on the chopper just beating him by a step. Rangel Ravelo pinch hit for Helsley and flied out to center. Fowler struck out swinging at a slider in the dirt to end the inning. Genesis Cabrera came out for the bottom of the 12th. Escobar struck out looking at a close slider on the inside corner. Jones popped out to 2nd. Rojas smoked a 3-2 center-cut fastball for a base hit down the right field line. Fowler cut it off to hold Rojas to a single. Kelly struck out looking at an inside 99-mph fastball that looked like it was a couple of inches off the plate.
Clarke came back out for the top of the 13th. Edman struck out swinging at a fastball that was almost over his head. Goldschmidt skied a 3-2 center-cut fastball to left-center that just barely made it over the wall for a solo HR to give the Cards a 2-1 lead. Rojas jumped a little early and just missed it.
Goldy, have a homecoming! pic.twitter.com/Wh2jRviJcT— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 25, 2019
Ozuna worked a 3-2 walk. After Molina struck out swinging at an inside fastball, the Diamondbacks brought in lefty Robby Scott to pitch to Carpenter, who popped out to short to end the inning. Shildt brought in John Gant to pitch the bottom of the 13th. Unfortunately, he could not close it out. Ahmed smoked an up-and-in hanging curveball down the left field line that one-hopped the left field wall. Ozuna decided to play the carom with his bare hand, but whiffed, and the ball got by him. Ahmed wound up at 3rd base with a triple, although Ozuna could easily have been charged with an error. Dyson walked on 4 pitches, and Shildt, seeing enough, brought in Junior Fernandez. Caleb Joseph pinch hit for Scott. Joseph lined an 0-1 center-cut 97-mph fastball to right for a base hit to score Ahmed, tie the game 2-2 and move Dyson to 2nd base.
At least Fernandez would get out of the inning without losing the game. Walker grounded a 1-1 low changeup underneath the glove of Fernandez, but right to Edman, who stepped on 2nd base and fired to first for a 4-3 double play. Dyson advanced to 3rd base. Vargas grounded out to DeJong situated over the 2nd base bag to strand the runner at 3rd and continue the game. The Diamondbacks are now out of position players.
Lefty Andrew Chafin came out to pitch the top of the 14th. DeJong grounded a fastball up the middle for a base hit. Bader struck out swinging at a slider in the dirt. Tyler O’Neill pinch hit for Fernandez. He was ahead in the count 3-0, but ended up striking out swinging at a center-cut 95-mph fastball. Fowler struck out swinging at a good slider to end the inning. Daniel Ponce de Leon had 16 days of rest, so Shildt decided that this would be as good a time as any to bring him in. After Ponce retired the first 2 batters, Rojas worked a 3-2 walk. But with the count 0-1 on Kelly, Rojas was caught stealing 2nd base. Ponce just stepped off the rubber, turned around and fired to Edman at 2nd, who chased Rojas down as he was trying to head back to 1st.
Righty Jon Duplantier came out to pitch the top of the 15th. Edman lined an 0-1 curveball up the middle for a base hit to lead off the inning. But Goldschmidt broke his bat on an inside fastball to fly out to left and Ozuna grounded a low-and-in fastball to short for an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. Ponce walked Kelly on 4 pitches to start the bottom of the 15th. Ahmed struck out swinging at a high-and-inside fastball. Dyson struck out on 3 pitches. The pitcher Duplantier hit for himself, and chopped an outside fastball to short deep in the hole on the edge of the grass. He beat out DeJong’s throw for an infield hit, the first of his career. DeJong had a much easier to play to throw to 2nd base for the force, and it is unclear why he did not choose that option. Kelly moved to 2nd base. But Walker struck out swinging at a 3-2 fastball above the zone to end the inning.
Duplantier retired the Cards in order in the top of the 16th. To lead off the bottom of the 16th, Vargas hit a high-and-outside changeup to the gap in right-center. Bader cut it off, but Vargas stood up safely with a double. Escobar was walked intentionally to set up the double play. But Ponce would get out of the inning unscathed. Jones popped a fastball that was about eye-level to Goldschmidt at 1st. Rojas smoked a center-cut fastball to the deepest part of the park near the 413-foot sign in left center, but Bader jumped and caught it at the track up against the wall.
Kelly grounded a fastball to short for a 6-4 force to end the inning.
Bader bunted a first-pitch curveball from Duplantier towards third base to start the top of the 17th. Escobar charged, barehanded the ball and fired to first, but Bader beat it out for a base hit. Matt Wieters pinch hit for Ponce de Leon and struck out swinging at an outside fastball. Fowler flied a 3-1 center-cut fastball to the track in center. Edman softly lined an 0-2 center-cut fastball for a base hit to left to move Bader to 2nd. But Goldschmidt struck out swinging at a low-and-in slider to end the inning. Dominic Leone came out for the bottom of the 17th and walked Ahmed to start the inning off. Dyson struck out swinging at a slider in the dirt. Duplantier hit for himself again. After failing to get the sacrifice down on 2 straight pitches, he struck out swinging at a low cutter. Leone’s first pitch to Walker was a slider that bounced in front of the plate. Molina blocked it, but it scooted away far enough for a wild pitch to allow Ahmed to move to 2nd base. Shildt just ordered an intentional walk of Walker to set up the force. Vargas grounded out to DeJong positioned over the 2nd base bag to end the inning.
Righty Yoshihisa Hirano came out for the top of the 18th and struck out the side. Escobar led off the bottom of the 18th by lining a slider for a base hit to right past the glove of the diving Edman. But Jones popped a first-pitch fastball to Leone at the mound, and Rojas grounded a low-and-in cutter to Goldschmidt for an inning-ending 3-6-3 double play.
Righty Kevin Ginkel came out to pitch the top of the 19th, and that is the last of the Diamondbacks’ relievers. DeJong launched a 2-2 low-and-away slider deep to left field near the corner, but Rojas raced over and made a jumping catch while crashing into the wall.
Bader flied out to center. Randy Arozarena pinch hit for Leone and grounded a low-and-away slider deep to the hole at short. Ahmed had some time, but he made an off-balance throw across his body, which was short of the bag and too high. Arozarena beat it out for a hit. With the count 1-1 on Fowler, Ginkel tried to pick Arozarena off of first base, but his throw was wild and went to the sidewall in foul territory. Arozarena raced all the way to 3rd base on the throwing error. But Fowler struck out swinging at an outside 3-2 fastball to end the inning.
John Brebbia came out for the bottom of the 19th. Kelly lined an up-and-in fastball to left to lead off the inning. Ahmed lined an outside slider to center for a base hit to move Kelly to 2nd. Dyson struck out looking at a slider outside that should probably have been called a ball. Pitcher Robbie Ray pinch hit for Ginkel because the Diamondbacks were out of position players, and he struck out. Next, Shildt ordered Walker intentionally walked to load the bases for Vargas. This was a curious decision, and the only thing Shildt said after the game was that Walker was a more proven guy. The only thing I can think of that Shildt meant is this. Even though Vargas was unusually hot in this game and is a switch hitter, he only has a 56 wRC+ this year batting left-handed against right-handed pitching, which is 100 points less than his wRC+ against left-handed pitching, and this despite many more PA batting left-handed. Walker has a 111 wRC+ batting right-handed against right-handed pitching. Shildt must have thought Brebbia had a better chance to get Vargas out, and that chance outweighed the fact that Brebbia’s wOBA goes up 75 points when facing left-handers, and the fact that the winning run was now on 3rd base instead of 2nd base. In any case, it didn’t work. Vargas lined the first pitch, a high-and-outside fastball through the hole to left for a walk-off base hit to score Kelly and give the Diamondbacks the 3-2 victory.
AFTER 6 HOURS AND 53 MINUTES, VARGAS WALKS IT OFF. pic.twitter.com/Csq2CkJ6Dd— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) September 25, 2019
Tale of the Tape
*Tied for the 4th longest game in Cardinal history in terms of innings
*At 6 hours and 53 minutes, it was the longest ever at Chase Field
*147 plate appearances
*54 players used
*The Diamondbacks used all of their position players and relievers, with a record 30 players used.
*48 combined strikeouts, which tied a MLB record, and is only the 2nd time ever that each club in a game recorded 21 or more strikeouts
Odds and Ends
If the Diamondbacks had not walked it off in the bottom of the 19th, the plan was to put pitcher Robbie Ray in LF, move Josh Rojas to 2B and have Ildemaro Vargas pitch...The Nationals knocked the Phillies out of postseason contention with their victory in Game 1 of a doubleheader, then clinched their own playoff berth with their victory in Game 2. Both the Mets and the Cubs are just barely alive, with their elimination number each at 1. The Cubs had a 1-0 lead, but the Pirates scored 7 runs in the bottom of the 7th to take a 9-2 victory. The Brewers continue to win, going on an improbable 18-4 run so far in the month of September, and 9-1 in their last 10 games. Their 4-2 victory over the Reds last night put their magic number for a playoff spot at 1.