With the MLB season being suspended indefinitely, baseball seems distant. This means that the most recent baseball that we have happened in 2019. Luckily, there were some crazy games last season that are worth revisiting in order to get a baseball fix during a spring without baseball.
One of these games happened when the Cardinals played the Diamondbacks on September 24th. There were plenty of storylines heading into the game. The Cardinals (6 wins in a row) and Jack Flaherty (0.97 ERA since All-Star break) were both red-hot, Paul Goldschmidt was returning to Arizona for the first time since being traded to the Cardinals, and the Cardinals were in the thick of a playoff race while the D-Backs had been eliminated the night before.
Once the game started, though, things got weird. The game was a low scoring affair with a solo home run by Dexter Fowler in the first inning, and then nothing else until the ninth inning. The Cardinals were fortunate to have Flaherty on the mound for this game as he was given just one run of run support. However, for seven innings, it appeared that he would only need that one run as he took a no-hitter into the seventh. However, he had thrown 98 pitches after seven innings, so Mike Shildt turned to the bullpen. Giovanny Gallegos pitched a scoreless eighth innings and then handed the ball to Andrew Miller to close. This is when things got weird, even though Miller’s performance that night was a microcosm of his season. Miller fanned two hitters, but allowed the game tying home run to Ildemaro Vargas.
This game then went to extra innings, and it did not finish until 1:35 AM in Arizona. The game lasted 19 innings and 6 hours and 53 minutes. It was a low scoring marathon that saw both teams combine to use a league record of 53 players in the game. The Diamondbacks had emptied both the bench and the bullpen when the game ended and were slated to have Robbie Ray play left field if there would have been a 20th inning. Instead Vargas hit a two-out walk off against John Brebbia to end the game.
The Cardinals thought they had the game won when Goldschmidt went yard in his old park in the top of the 13th inning. However, Caleb Joseph hit an RBI single off Jose Fernandez that tied the game at 2-2. There were plenty of defensive highlights the rest of the way, but the most important was Josh Rojas making a leaping grab at the wall in the top of the 19th inning to steal a hit from Paul DeJong. Additionally, the Cardinals managed to avoid making an error for the entire game.
This game was weird and crazy and record breaking by the time it was over. Both teams combined for a record number of strikeouts (48), with Flaherty leading all players with 11. Additionally, the Cardinals managed to lose a game in which Flaherty took a no-hitter into the 7th inning.
Perhaps the worst part for the players, though, was the fact that each Cardinals starter received at least 8 plate appearances in a game that did not end until after 1:30 AM, and then the players had to get up early the next morning for a 1:40 PM game. This means that both teams played more than three full games in less than 24 hours.
This was a wild game, and there will surely be similarly crazy games in 2020, so here’s hoping that baseball will be able to return somewhat soon.