Six hours and five minutes. It’s not often you see a game go that long, which is about twice the length of an average game. Yes, even big rivalry games, Joe West, tonight’s home plate umpire who famously once complained that Yankees-Red Sox games were too long with some choice words. Of course, it didn’t help that tonight’s first pitch was thrown when the weather read at 43° and over the course of the game, the temperature bottomed out around 39°. And impressively enough for a Sunday night game, those parka-clad fans stuck it out for a good portion of the game, though admittedly by the end it was down to a handful of Wrigley loyalists (from the 40,585 sell-out crowd) to see the final out.
Anyway, the Yankees came into tonight’s game looking for a sweep against the reigning champion Cubs going into their short series in Cincinnati. And things were certainly going that way for a good portion of the regular game. Luis Severino threw 111 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up just 4 hits, a walk, and a run, and striking out an impressive 9 strikeouts. That run was a 2-out solo home run in the 3rd to get the Cubs on the board.
Meanwhile, the Yankees slowly worked their way into a win position. With 1 out, Aaron Hicks worked a single, moved to 2nd on Holliday’s single, ended up at 3rd on a double steal, and then scored on Starlin Castro’s ground out to start tonight’s wild ride. The game was tied for most of the regular game. In the 7th, Castro reached on a throwing error and then scored on Aaron Judge’s big triple to put the Yankees in the lead. And in the 8th, Gardner led-off with a single and then scored as part of Jacoby Ellsbury’s 2-run home run to double the Yankees’ score.
After Dellin Betances closed down the Cubs’ threat in the 8th inning, the Yankees just needed 3 outs to get out of the game and go home with the sweep. Unfortunately, Aroldis Chapman wasn’t having a good control day. Right away, he gave up a walk and single before getting a strikeout. Two more singles scored 2 runs for the Cubs, putting them within 1-run. After another strikeout, Chapman intentionally walked the next batter before hitting the next guy and giving up the tying run.
Wrigley was alive with hope as Clippard closed out the inning with a ground out, sending the game into extra innings. Just how many, however, became the stuff of weird internet statistics as the game trudged on into the night.
After Chapman’s blown save, Clippard continued into the 10th and started the parade of the bullpen, who to their credit gave an amazing night and pushed through until the very end. We really don’t ever give enough credit to the bullpen guys who come through in cases like this, so I will: Tyler Clippard, Adam Warren, Jonathan Holder, and Chasen Shreve did an amazing job of working their way through the extra innings, a grand total of 9 of them.
And while there’s clearly a problem with the 10 allowed walks by the Yankees’ pitching staff tonight, they did manage to hand-deliver 26 total strikeouts. Anyway, the final four guys that stepped on the mound certainly contributed more than their fair share to help maintain the Yankees until they could break through. Which, of course, wasn’t until the 18th inning.
Aaron Hicks led-off with a bunt single and ended up at 2nd on a throwing error. He then moved to 3rd on Torreyes’ sacrifice bunt. And when Castro reached safely on a fielder’s choice, Hicks came running home to score the winning run. Just in case, the Yankees put runners into scoring position but couldn’t get that insurance run.
So it was up to Shreve to push through the bottom of the 18th to ensure the Yankees’ win. But he had a bit of struggles. With 2 outs, he walked one batter and then intentionally walked the next, but then got a final strikeout to close out the game and get the well-fought win.
Final score: 5-4 Yankees in 18, Yankees sweep Cubs 3-0.
There are so many little stories about this game –Matt Holliday playing 1st base for the first time as a Yankee, all the little game stats and quirks (like they set a MLB record having 7 pitchers with multiple strikeouts in the same game), or that despite it being the longest game so far this season, it doesn’t even come close to the longest game the Yankees have played. But really, to endure a long game, then hop on a flight (even a short one) the next morning to play a game the next night (now, tonight) says a lot about the professionalism of these guys.
And they’re headed ironically eastward to “The Queen of the West” for a short series against the Reds this week. And because of the marathon that was tonight’s game, you can expect a few roster moves to help freshen up the roster, especially the bullpen.