19 Innings in Boston


This past Tuesday night, the Blue Jays battled the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox in a nineteen-inning game, tying the franchise record for the longest game. It lasted six hours exactly, and by the end much of the stadium was empty, and the majority of the TV audience was asleep. In case you turned this marathon off partway through, here’s how it all went down.


The game begins after a lot of the pre-game coverage focused on the sign-stealing allegations against the Red Sox that were released earlier that day. The Yankees allege that the Sox have been using TV cameras and Apple watches to relay information about pitches to their batters.


1st inning:

Eduardo Rodriguez starts for Boston, and the Jays go down in order in this inning. Two groundouts and a flyout. Marco Estrada gives up a single to Dustin Pedroia, but Richard Urena and Steve Pearce combine for a double play to erase him on an Andrew Benintendi ground ball.


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2nd inning:

The Jays have a lead! Kevin Pillar laces a grounder down the right field line for a double. That’s his team-leading thirty-fourth double of the year, which is good, because a Kevin Pillar is better than a Kevin Pillar who can’t hit. Darwin Barney singles on a ground ball which Pedroia lays out to retrieve, then throws to second (even though there’s nobody there). On the broadcast, Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler heap praise on Pedroia anyways. Teoscar Hernandez picks up his first RBI with the Blue Jays, driving in Pillar with a sac fly.


Hanley Ramirez fouls off three balls in a row and then doubles. With two out, Estrada walks a pair. But Jackie Bradley grounds out and Estrada escapes! But this is an oddly prophetic comment for me to make at the time:


3rd inning:

On the Jays broadcast, they tell a neat story about Raffy Lopez and his wife, Heather, who’s an OB/GYN. I wonder how many babies she could have delivered before this game ended…




Josh Donaldson walks in the top half, but Kendrys Morales strikes out on three pitches to end the inning. Estrada gets his first strikeout of the game, on a full count pitch to Eduardo Nunez. Pedroia singles, Buck makes a joke about Pedroia “hitting that like he knew it was coming”, and Estrada strands him.


4th inning:

Jose Bautista leads off with his twenty-fourth double of the year. He gets to third when Barney singles and Xander Bogaerts makes an error… but doesn’t score. Estrada strands another walk and gets another strikeout.


5th inning:

Nobody gets a baserunner in this inning. The Jays do make Rodriguez work for seventeen pitches, however. Estrada needs eight pitches in his half. The game has begun to feel like it’s moving both very slowly and very quickly at the same time.


6th inning:

Another Jays run! Morales hits a leadoff homer over the Green Monster. He’s hit twenty-seven, which is behind only Justin Smoak for the most on the team. Pillar gets another hit, a single, but doesn’t budge from first base because the next two Jays strike out. Flyout-groundout-strikeout and Estrada’s also through the inning safely.


7th inning:

Another perfect inning for both teams, although Joe Kelly has at this point taken over for Rodriguez. Estrada, ever efficient, uses nine pitches to retire the side in his final inning of the night. He’s retired the last ten batters in a row. I’m thrilled, but I’m also a little nervous. Things seem to be going too easily. They’re never easy for Estrada. Something beyond his control always seems to bite them (lack of run support, the bullpen blowing the lead). Plus, everyone knows no lead is safe at Fenway. Just ask the Red Sox about that time the Jays scored nine runs in one inning to recover from an 8-1 deficit.


8th inning:

Addison Reed makes quick work of Donaldson, Morales and Bautista, with none of their batted balls leaving the infield. Dominic Leone is equally stellar – he strikes out Jackie Bradley on three pitches and gets Eduardo Nunez and Pedroia to fly out on two apiece. Things seem to be going smoothly for the Jays at this point – but baseball is nothing if not unpredictable.


9th inning:

Craig Kimbrel enters the game in a non-save situation for some reason and the Jays actually get to him – Barney doubles, and Justin Smoak (pinch-hitting for Teoscar Hernandez) works a walk. Unfortunately neither of them score, and Kimbrel does get three strikeouts in the inning.


Then… well, things get a little painful. Roberto Osuna enters the game. He’s already got nine blown saves on the season, most of them after the All-Star break. Where his appearance used to bring with it unparalleled confidence, now there’s a tinge of concern. And then, like dominoes falling one after another, everything starts to go wrong. Benintendi leads off with a walk. Mookie Betts doubles to put two men in scoring position. Hanley Ramirez grounds out to Donaldson, scoring Benintendi – but Donaldson neglects to hold Betts at second base, and Betts advances.


Mitch Moreland hits a ground ball between first and second, and Barney pounces on it, then scrambles to his feet. Realizing Betts is scoring anyways, he dejectedly flips the ball to first for the out. The game is tied, 2-2. Everything seems to happen in slow motion, like the bottom of the 10th at Wrigley Field all over again. Only instead of a catcher to pin some of the blame on (if only Russell Martin were healthy!), this time it’s pretty much all on Osuna. Pete Walker goes out to talk to the closer, and my heart aches for the kid. I can’t be mad at him. It’s easier to be mad at the veteran Donaldson for not holding the runner, or mad at the pesky Red Sox, or mad at the game of baseball for being unfair. But it’s easiest of all to be sad. So that’s what I choose to be. Meanwhile, Osuna allows another single to Bogaerts (who then steals second) before getting a strikeout to wriggle out of the inning.

10th inning:

The good news is, the Red Sox have already burned Kimbrel, so he can’t be used to preserve their newfound tie. The bad news is, apparently the Jays can’t hit Brandon Workman. He gets two strikeouts and a long fly-ball out from Donaldson (although the called strike three to Pearce seemed outside). Tom Koehler can’t corral a slowly rolling ground ball back to the mound off the bat of Nunez, and it ends up as an infield single. No matter, Barney snags a line drive from the next batter, then handles a ground ball to end the inning.


11th inning:

Barney was shaping up to be the hero of the game, until they decide to pinch-hit Michael Saunders for him. Bautista walks, Pillar bunts him over, and Saunders manages to reach safely on a ball to the shortstop, but Jackie Bradley just has to play hero for the hometown crowd. With Smoak as the batter, a fly ball is hit to centre – a routine sac fly in nearly any other game – but Bradley fires a bullet to home and nabs Bautista out at the plate. Unbelievable.


Luis Santos comes in for his second appearance of the season, and walks Betts to start it off. On four pitches. But unlike Koehler before him, Santos capably handles a squibber back to the mound, and sets down the next three to get out of it.


12th inning:

Ezequiel Carrera pinch-hits for Luke Maile, and gets aboard with a single. Despite the bunt the inning before amounting to nothing, the Jays are determined to try again. Urena pops up the bunt, and the pitcher Austin Maddux catches it – nearly doubling off Carrera in the process. So they give away an out, and don’t even move the runner. Terrific. In the bottom half, Carrera moves to left and Raffy Lopez takes over behind the plate. Pearce is out of the game. Santos sets down the side in order.


13th inning:

Between innings, the videoboard at the park shows a message – the last subway for the night will be leaving soon. I wonder how many people chose to ignore that warning and fend for themselves when this thing is finally over. I also wonder what I’d do, in that situation, in an extra-inning game in Toronto… (Who am I kidding, I’m so afraid of being stranded that I’d take the train and kick myself later).


The Jays go down without much of a fight, and Matt Dermody allows a pinch-hit leadoff single to Chris Young that drops right in front of Pillar. Once again, nothing comes of it for Boston. A Red Sox reporter tweets about all the mistakes the Jays have made, but the fans in his mentions still think their team will lose. It’s a small consolation, knowing they’re equally as apprehensive as we are.


14th inning:

Nobody gets aboard. How much longer is this going to go?


15th inning:

At this point, Estrada’s amazing start seems so long ago. He pitched less than half of the game at its current length. The Jays accomplish nothing (though Donaldson does hit a fly ball deep into the triangle in centre), and the Red Sox get a single off Dermody but strand it. Not bad for a guy whose ERA was higher than 7 at the beginning of the month. Had Marcus Stroman not been hit in the elbow with a line drive last week, this is right about where I’d be wanting him to pinch-hit.


16th inning:

Morales leads off with a walk! Bautista promptly grounds into a double play, of course.  Chris Rowley, now pitching for the Jays, gives up a leadoff single to Betts but gets Moreland to ground into a double play – beautifully turned by Urena. With each passing inning, the Jays’ chance of winning seems smaller, but they’re somehow able to keep the Red Sox from scoring. Baseball is weird.



17th inning:

Carrera bloops one into centre with two outs, and moves to third when Urena singles. Urena swipes second for his first career stolen base! Nice to see the players are still alert, 5+ hours deep. With two out, this is the best chance the Jays have had to score since the 11th. On a 2-2 count, after fouling off three in a row, Lopez takes a high pitch for called strike three.


Rowley sets down the side on seven pitches. He throws nothing but strikes all inning. Urena shows off again by making a leaping snag for a line drive off the bat of the leadoff hitter.




18th inning:

It’s never too late in a ballgame for drama. Josh Donaldson proves this by getting tossed in the 18th inning after arguing the first strike call of his at-bat. He’d been looking back at the pitcher, ready to continue hitting, but gets tossed anyways. Then there’s some swearing. A LOT of swearing. At one point Donaldson strides over to home plate and points at it with both arms, as if to say “This is actually where the plate is, FYI.” Demarlo Hale – who looks kind of sleepy on a good day, nevermind in the 18th inning of a night game – has to rush out and restrain an angry player for the umpteenth time this year. I don’t know how much that man gets paid, but I don’t think it’s enough.


Miguel Montero, the only position player left for the Jays at this point, takes over the at-bat with an 0-1 count and grounds out. Rob Refsnyder (who pinch-ran for Morales in the 16th) reaches on a ground ball to third when Nunez’s throw takes the first baseman off the bag. The Red Sox don’t challenge – interestingly, there has been no replay review in this game. Refsnyder then tries to steal second and is out by a mile. In the bottom half, Montero takes over behind the plate and Lopez at third – because at this point, why not? Rowley cuts through all three hitters easily, and we’re off to the record-tying 19th.


19th inning:

Returning from commercial, Buck greets viewers with “We’ve played a double-header here”. Only three men from the Jays’ starting lineup – Pillar, Bautista and Urena – are still standing. Smoak reaches on an infield single, but with two outs the Jays can’t capitalize.


Boston, meanwhile, has only had two starters taken out of their lineup (Pedroia and the catcher Vazquez). Facing Rowley for the second time, Betts lines a double over Carrera’s head and off the Green Monster. Four pitches later, Ramirez singles and it’s over. Everyone can go to bed now.


Final Thoughts:

Well, I guess the Jays can still ‘play spoiler’ in the division if by ‘spoiler’ you mean ‘blowing out a division rival in Game 1 and using up their entire bullpen in Game 2’. They’ve also now been walked off on every other game on this road trip. That’s embarrassing.

It’s also pretty crazy to think that this team existed for 37 years without playing a game that was 19 innings or longer – and now they’ve played three in the span of four seasons. At least the other two times, they were considerate enough to do it during day games!


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