In a dozen years broadcasting minor league baseball I was privileged to broadcast two games that went 17 innings or more, and only two triple plays. Yesterday the Dodgers beat the Padres 9-5 in 17, and I attended a minor league game featuring a triple play. Not only that, but in the manner of Babe Ruth maybe calling his shot, I called that triple play. In Bridgewater, NJ the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League were hosting the Long Island Ducks. In the top of the fifth, the Patriots’ radio broadcaster had a guest on the air with him. Because of my blindness I have a hard time knowing what’s going on when there’s a guest in the booth, since the announcer usually lets the guest say his bit rather than calling the game. I won’t criticize this tactic in case some announcer has an idea of inviting me onto his broadcast to promote my upcoming book. Anyway, the Ducks put two men on to start the inning. So, assuming the guest would only be on during their half of the inning I started saying, “Let’s get a triple play here.”
Meantime my brother-in-law was saying “Let’s get a 3-run home run,” as the Ducks’ hitter was ex-met Ruben Gotay and my brother-in-law is a major Mets fan. Incredibly enough Gotay hit one to third for one out, the third baseman tagged third for the second out and threw to second. In past years that would have been all, because the runner was safe at second. But the runner from first was called out on a questionable slide. A triple play.
The 17-inning Dodgers-Padres game will take longer to describe, as it did to play. The two of those I covered were both in 1995 and happened within 5 weeks, one going 19 and one going 17. Early on it appeared the teams hadn’t brought their bats along, as the Pirates got no hits in 4 innings off Kenta Maeda and the Dodgers didn’t score in the first 5 innings. But their bats arrived with a vengance starting in the home fifth when 4 Padres scored. First up, Christian Bethancourt singled home Melvin Upton JR. With the bases full, Will Myers cleared them with a wind-aided pop fly 3-bagger to make it 4-0 Padres. The Dodgers nearly tied it in the visiting sixth, putting 3 up. Then Justin Turner homered in the 7th and Howie Kendrick followed suit in the 8th, making it look like the visitors might take their first win in the series in the regulation 9. But in the home 8th, with Will Myers aboard Melvin Upton JR. tripled him home to level the game at 5. Then things got strange. To start with in the 9th, Yasiel Puig who has never been known for his common sense on the base paths stood stock still on second as A. J. Ellis tried to sacrifice him over to third.
Ellis was thrown out and the million-dollar bat with the two cent belfry stood there on second like a lawn flamingo. In the 13th reliever J. P. Howell batted for himself, and two innings later Clayton Kershaw came up as a pinch-hitter.
Neither could channel their inner Bartolo Colon unfortunately for the Dodgers. In the 17th, the sprinkler system turned itself on at Petco. This isn’t unusual in the minors, but at a big league park it just shouldn’t happen even if the game goes longer than expected. Finally, in that same inning the Dodgers put up 4 runs for the 9-5 victory. Puig singled home Kendrick and Adrian Gonzalez and sending Jock Peterson to third from where he scored on a wild pitch that moved Puig up 90 feet. He would ultimately score on a fielder’s choice by Carl Crawford.
As long as the game was, it was nowhere close to the Dodgers’ franchise record. In 1920 when they played in Brooklyn they engaged the Boston Braves for 26 innings in Boston. The result-a 1-1 tie. As the Los Angeles Dodgers, the record is 22 innings. The Padres’ have twice lasted 21 innings, once each in 1971 and 1977.
There’s an afternoon game today if you have the ability or the inclination to watch it. The Rockies will face the Pirates in pittsburgh at 12:35 PM Eastern. Later there will be what used to be called a twi-night doubleheader, starting at 5:10 PM in Chicago between the Indians and the White Sox. The Mets hope to do better in Washington than they did when the Nats came to Citi Field last week. Bartolo Colon who lost the final game of that series faces Gio Gonzalez of the Nats. If anything, the Mets have some momentum after sweeping the Brewers. But momentum is only as good as your next day’s starter and Colon looked awful against the Nats on a day when his off-field issues were splattered all over the New York papers. John Lackey of the Cubs faces his former teammates and their former ace Adam Wainwright tonight in St. Louis. If there’s a hope for the Dodgers after back-to-back extra inning games, it is that Clayton Kershaw faces the Reds tonight in Los Angeles. If he can’t give them length they badly need against an awful Reds team, who can? The Padres have to hope for a similar long outing from Drew Pomeranz as he faces Johnny Cueto of the Giants tonight in San Francisco.0