It was well after midnight when Miguel Rojas brought an end to one of the longest games in Marlins history, a 17-inning marathon that began on Friday, ended on Saturday, and gave Miami a 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs.
“You just want the game over with,” Rojas said after his two-out single off Brandon Morrow drove home the winning run and gave Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter their first victory as owners.
Said Brian Anderson, who scored the winning run after reaching on a two-out single: “The entire game was crazy. It was starting to get a little sloppy there at the end. Everyone’s tired. Everyone’s been there for five or six hours.”
Make it five hours and 18 minutes.
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In terms of innings, there have been only two longer games in Marlins history, both 20-inning affairs — one in 2003 and the other in 2013. The Marlins also played one other 17-inning game in 1998.
“There are games that feel longer than that,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. “When you lose, they feel really long.”
Each team scored a run in the third inning.
And then neither team scored over the next 13 as the teams’ staffs, and their bullpens in particular, put on a clinic each. Once the respective starters, the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks and the Marlins’ Caleb Smith, came out, the bullpens went to work by shutting down each team’s hitters.
Most impressive of all were the Marlins’ Jarlin Garcia and the Cubs’ Eddie Butler, who ended up throwing more innings than either of the two starters.
Garcia retired the first 15 batters he faced before allowing a leadoff walk in the 15th.
Butler went seven innings.
“I felt great out here,” Garcia said. “I had no idea I was going to go six innings.”
Garcia ran into trouble in the 15th when the Cubs loaded the bases with one out. But he got out of it when first baseman Derek Dietrich came up with Jason Heyward’s hot shot, stepped on the bag for one out and threw home to complete an inning-ending double play.
The Cubs threatened again in the 16th when they put two aboard against Chris O’Grady. But O’Grady struck out Ian Happ and Victor Caratini to end the inning.
By then, Mattingly was out of pitchers. So he turned to Odrisamer Despaigne, who was scheduled to start Saturday’s game. Despaigne pitched a clean 17th, leaving it up to the Marlins hitters to bring the night to an end.
The victory came at a cost for the Marlins, though.
Garrett Cooper came out in the fourth after being hit by a pitch and is listed as day-to-day with a bruised right wrist.
And the Marlins might have to turn to their minor-league system and bring up reinforcements. Garcia won’t be able to go for at least three days after throwing six innings. And Mattingly said he wasn’t sure whom he would send out Saturday to start after using Despaigne, who earned the win, to work in relief.
He didn’t rule out having Despaigne make the start. After all, Despaigne threw just 11 pitches.
“Could Despaigne get two wins in one day?” Mattingly asked aloud.
Despaigne told Mattingly afterward that he would be willing to make his start.
“I told Don as soon as the game ended I was ready to go the next game. I’d be there for him,” Despaigne said.