Friday, May 30, 2008

I Know Jayson Stark Better Than Jayson Stark Knows Jayson Stark

It was only five American days ago when I wrote about the Reds' disastrous 18-inning loss to the Padres. Within that post I told you to check Jayson Stark's blog on Monday for more information on the game, for it was right up his alley.

Come Monday, no dice. And I took a fair amount of crap for this. First, because Stark didn't write anything. Second, because it was Insider Only.

But alas, redemption has come my way. Jayson Stark finally wrote about Sunday's game. From his blog:

STRIKE TWO -- EXTRA-EXTRA DEPT.: Sunday in San Diego, the Reds and Padres played a baseball game that wouldn't end. Not for 18 innings. Or 5 hours, 57 minutes, anyway.

And when you play baseball that long, stuff happens. Lots of stuff. Lots of weird stuff. So let's peruse the highlights:

--First off, it wouldn't quite be accurate to say the Padres do this all the time. But they've now played a 22-inning game this year (April 17 against the Rockies) and an 18-inning game. Last team to play a 22-inning game and another game of at least 18 innings in the same season, according to Elias: the 1989 Dodgers (who played two 22-inning games).

--The Reds used four members of their starting rotation in this game -- Matt Belisle (who started), Edinson Volquez (who pitched the 17th and 18th innings and took the loss), Bronson Arroyo (who got a pinch hit in the 13th) and Aaron Harang (who spun four spectacular innings in relief).

--Speaking of Harang, he struck out seven Padres in a row at one point -- and nine altogether in four innings. That's A) more strikeouts in his one relief outing than he's racked up in any of his 11 starts this year, B) the most whiffs by any reliever in extra innings since Jim Kaat fanned 10 A's on Sept. 6, 1969, C) the most strikeouts by a Reds reliever in four innings or less since Joe Nuxhall punched out nine Phillies on May 14, 1960, and D) the first time any relief pitcher had whiffed seven hitters in a row at any point since noted short man Randy Johnson did it on July 19, 2001. (That was the famous game in San Diego which actually started on the 18th, with Curt Schilling on the mound, but had to be suspended because of a power failure.)

--Also doing eye-popping relief work in this game was the Padres' Josh Banks, who pitched the 13th through 18th and got the win. As loyal reader Eric Orns reports, that made Banks the first man to pitch six extra innings in relief and get a win out of it since the unforgettable Bronswell Patrick, on June 10, 1998.

--As Dayton Daily News Hall of Famer Hal McCoy couldn't help but point out, the Reds blew more saves just between the eighth and 11th innings of this game (three) than they'd blown all season before that (two).

--Were there enough names in this box score? The Reds used 24 players. The Padres used 21. The Reds used 10 pitchers (and it wasn't even September). And the Padres had a different pitcher on the mound to start every darned inning between the sixth and 11th.

--There wasn't a zero to be found in the box-score lines of any of the Padres' first six hitters (who all had at least one run, hit and RBI). But Reds leadoff man Corey Patterson supplied enough zeroes for all of them -- by becoming the first Red to go 0 for 8 in any game since Eddie Milner did it in 1983.

--And the Reds managed to do something they hadn't done in almost 60 years -- get 21 hits in one game and lose. Last time they did that: June 8, 1949.

STRIKE THREE -- LOTS OF TROTS DEPT.: OK, there was one more awesome development in that 18-inning game that we saved for this, the weird-homer-feat portion of Three Strikes. Here come the two most riveting home-run feats of the week:

--Adrian Gonzalez hit a three-run 18th-inning walkoff homer in that Padres-Reds game. And gang, you just don't see many of them. There hasn't been an 18th-inning walkoff in any National League game since Aug. 6, 1989, when Jeff King hit one for the Pirates. And the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR's David Vincent, reports there had never been a three-run 18th-inning home run (or slam) in the history of baseball before that one. There have been three of them after the 18th, however -- by Ben Ogilvie (in the 21st inning on May 8, 1984), Merv Rettenmund (also in the 21st, on May 21, 1977) and Hi Myers (in the 19th, on April 30, 1919).

Apologize, dammit.

-Brad Spieser (