Miami Marlins

Marlins play into the Fourth of July, lose 16-inning marathon to Rays

Miami Marlins right baseman Brian Anderson hits a single during the second inning of a Major League Baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Marlins Park on Tuesday, July 3, 2018.
Miami Marlins right baseman Brian Anderson hits a single during the second inning of a Major League Baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Marlins Park on Tuesday, July 3, 2018. Miami Herald

Don Mattingly opened his post-game press conference Wednesday -- yes, Wednesday -- with a simple greeting.

"Good morning."

A game that began on Tuesday and ended on the Fourth of July resulted in a 9-6 loss to the Rays in 16 innings.

It ended after 510 total pitches were thrown. It lasted five hours and 31 minutes. It ended at 12:41 a.m. when Cameron Maybin grounded to second after most of South Florida had gone to bed.

And did it ever get weird at the end. With both teams having exhausted their benches and bullpens, each manager resorted to drastic maneuvers to make it through to the finish.

Rays manager Kevin Cash called on catcher Jesus Sucre to pitch the 16th. Mattingly sent up Dan Straily, one of the worst-hitting pitchers on the Marlins, to pinch-hit in the 16th. He walked. And had the game continued, Mattingly said he would have brought in reliever Drew Rucinski to play first base and have backup catcher Bryan Holaday take the mound.

It even rained ever so briefly Marlins Park. The retractable roof was open to start but was closed when drops began to fall midway through the contest.

"It was not a good situation for our club, and for them either," said Marlins infielder Miguel Rojas. "It was kind of weird."

One night after the two teams went 10 innings in a 3-2 Marlins win, they went even longer Tuesday, so long that the Marlins handed out two vouchers for future games to die-hard fans who stuck it out to the bitter end.

"You know it's kind of weird when you see raining coming down, you see little sprinkles coming down," Mattingly said.

It was the third time this season that the Marlins played a game lasting 16 innings or longer. They had never played that many in any previous season, and there are 75 games still to go in this one. It was the second-longest game ever played at Marlins Park, one inning shorter than their March 30 contest against the Cubs.

It matched the sixth-longest game in Marlins history by time elapsed.

And it all started normally.

Marlins starter Trevor Richards was slow to get going, allowing four runs in the first two innings. Wilson Ramos crushed a two-run blast in the first that found the shrubs in center.

But the Marlins mounted a comeback, with Richards having a hand in the rally. After Lewis Brinson was walked intentionally to load the bases with two outs, Richards stroked a two-run single off Rays starter Ryan Yarborough that reduced the deficit by half.

The Marlins tied it in the fifth on Brian Anderson’s RBI single and J.T. Realmuto’s sacrifice fly. But the Marlins gambled and lost that same inning when, with the bases loaded, Anderson tested the arm of Gold Glove outfielder Kevin Kiermaier by tagging from third on Miguel Rojas’ medium-depth fly ball.

The play at the plate wasn’t close. Kiermaier’s on-target throw beat Anderson to the plate by plenty, and what could have been a bigger inning for the Marlins ended with them having to settle for two runs only.

Richards came after after throwing five innings, leaving it up to the bullpen to hold the Rays in check.

After that, neither team scored again until the 16th, a stretch of 10 consecutive scoreless innings.

The Marlins bullpen, which has been sensational of late, did its thing. Tayron Guerrero, Drew Steckenrider and Brad Ziegler all did their part with relative ease. But Kyle Barraclough, who received a blown save by gave up a run in Monday's ninth inning, struggled to make through a difficult ninth Tuesday in which the Rays loaded the bases with a pair of singles and a walk, all coming with two outs.

But Barraclough got out of it by whiffing Joey Wendle on a 3-2 fastball with what was his 29th pitch, the most he'd thrown all season.

Elieser Hernandez and Adam Conley combined for three scoreless innings out of the pen, leaving it up to rookie Brett Graves to shoulder it through to the end. Graves pitched well, but also got out of a couple of tough jams with a pair of marvelous defensive plays, including one double play ball fielded by shortstop JT Riddle.

But he ran out of gas in the 16th, giving up four runs, with all the damage coming after two outs were recorded.

"I thought he pitched well and just kind of ran out of gas at the end there," Mattingly said.

But Mattingly said the evening "wrecked" the bullpen, and indicated moves could be forthcoming to bring in reinforcements from the minors in time for Wednesday's series finale that is scheduled to start at 1:10 p.m.

Even after falling behind by four runs, the Marlins didn't give up, scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the 16th and getting the tying run to the plate with two outs. But Maybin was retired to end the game that was one by Rays reliever Vidal Nuno, who also went 2 for 2 and drove in a run in the decisive 16th inning.

Nuno became the first American League reliever to record two or more hits and earn the win in the same game since the institution of the designated hitter.