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Diamondbacks 10, Cardinals 9: The Long Game

Record: 2-1. Pace: 108-54. Change on last season: -1

The cliche runs that baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. Normally, this is a reminder to all of us to be patient as we watch, because one game's setbacks aren't necessarily a critical blow to the team's playoff chances. After all, if a game is 0.6% of the season, there's always time to make up for it later, right? But during Wednesday's rubber match, the metaphor seemed particularly apt, as the Diamondbacks and the Cardinals played late into the night, setting a new record at Chase Field, and giving us a few heroes on the night who didn't do much to contribute before the inning count hit double digits.

Settle in. There's a lot to cover here.

Looking back, it's easy to forget that Brandon McCarthy was making his first official appearance in a Diamondbacks uniform this season when he took the mound those many hours ago. His first steps in Sedona Red seemed promising, with the Cardinals going down 1-2-3 in the top of the first. Gerardo Parra gave us his own blast of hope by starting off the bottom of the inning with a home run to deep left field. Hooray, early lead! A two-out walk to Miguel Montero and single from Paul Goldschmidt had the Diamondbacks threatening to add on, but Jason Kubel lined out to second to end the threat.

McCarthy's second inning wasn't quite as impressive as his first, giving up a leadoff double to Allen Craig, just one of many Cardinals players with two first names. But Craig didn't get any further than third base, and McCarthy got his first visit to first base in the bottom of the second, drawing a two-out walk from Lance Lyn.

But things went a little south for McCarthy in the top of the third inning. Daniel Descalso led off with a single, taking third on a sacrifice bunt from Lyn. John Jay (I wasn't kidding about the two first names thing) hit a high bouncing ground ball up the middle that deflected off McCarthy's outstretched glove. Cliff Pennington fielded the ball and tried to rush a throw to first, but Goldschmidt couldn't get a glove on it. Jay took second on the error and Descalso came around to score. After striking out Matt Carpenter, McCarthy hit Matt Holliday with a pitch to give St. Louis two runners on. A double from Allen Craig brought Jay in to score, and a single from Yadier Molina was enough to get both Holliday and Craig home. By the end of the inning, St. Louis had racked up a 4-1 lead against the Diamondbacks.

Things quieted down for a couple of innings until the bottom of the fifth inning. Gerardo Parra decided that maybe Aaron Hill had an idea with that "trying to hit for the cycle" business last year, and filled in the most difficult piece of the puzzle, leading off the inning with a triple deep center field. Rather than relying on a hit from his teammates to bring him in, Parra decided not to wait, scampering home to score on a wild pitch with Martin Prado at the plater. Montero could have waited a little bit, since Prado took a pitch and singled into center, which Aaron Hill followed with a ground rule double that bounced into the pool area. That was the end of Lyn's outing for the night, getting pulled after 4+ inning for Randy Choate. The former Diamondback faced one batter, giving up a sacrifice fly to Miguel Montero that scored Prado from third. Joe Kelly came in for the Cardinals and promptly gave up a home run to Paul Goldschmidt before you could even say "What's with the double names, Cardinals?" Goldie's shot was the definition of a "just enough" shot, bouncing off the top of the left field fence into the crowd, giving the DBacks a 5-4 lead.

Despite being gifted a lead, McCarthy didn't do well as he came back in for the sixth inning. A single for Matt Adams and a double by Pete Kozma gave the Cardinals two runners in scoring position with nobody out and spelled the end of McCarthy's first regular season outing with Arizona. Tony Sipp came in to replace him and gave up a double to Descalso, bringing in both runners and leaving McCarthy in line for the loss. Sipp got a sacrifice and a swinging K before walking Carpenter to end his night, leading to a shuffle of the defense and a Brad Ziegler appearance. Ziegler got the ground ball he wanted, it just happened to find its way to center field, and Descalso scored, leaving the Cardinals up 7-5 at the end of the inning.

But was it over? No! Not hardly! Not even halfway! Eric Chavez, having just taking over at third base as Prado was shifted to left field, led off the inning with a single. One out later, the aforementioned Prado took a pitch to left field, again getting just enough distance to bounce off the left field fence into the crowd to tie the game at 7 apiece. The Cardinals took their lead right back, though, with Yadier Molina leading off the top of the seventh inning with a solo home run off Ziegler to put St. Louis back up 8-7. This score held until the bottom of the eighth, when back-to-back-to-back singles from Parra, Prado, and Hill brought Parra around to score and tie it up. J.J. Putz worked around a lead-off walk to keep the Cardinals quiet in the ninth, and Trevor Rosenthal kept the Diamondbacks from doing anything in the ninth, and we were set for free baseball.

Matt Reynolds and Marc Rzepczynski took the mound for Arizona and St. Louis, respectively, each putting up two scoreless innings. But as the game stretched on, Josh Collmenter came in to replace Reynolds in the twelfth, and ran into trouble. A one out walk to Yadier Molina was followed by a single from Adams, moving Molina to third. A single from Kozma gave the Cardinals a 9-8 lead, and put the Diamondbacks in a tight spot as the Cardinals turned to Mitchell Boggs, filling in as their closer until Jason Motte returns from the DL.

Game over? No! Nothing is over until we say it is! And this game was possibly never going to be over!

Bottom of the ninth twelfth, Cliff Pennington stepped to the plate, 0 for 11 as a Diamondback to that point. But he picked a great time for his first hit, a single to right-center. Boggs hit Eric Chavez with a pitch next, moving the runner up, and a Parra sacrifice bunt paired with a Prado sacrifice fly to bring Pennington in to tie the game up. The game was still on.

Chavez did leave the game between innings, replaced by Josh Wilson. It looked like the pitch hit his arm or elbow, no word yet on his status.

Meanwhile, on the mound, Josh Collmenter settled in and took a "bend but don't break" stance. St. Louis got runners to second base in the thirteenth and fourteenth innings, but Collmenter stranded them. He finished pretty well, going 1-2-3 in the fifteenth and sixteenth innings, but he looked to be flagging at that point, leading to some concerns in the GDT that we might see an appearance by Heath Bell, the only remaining member of the DBacks bullpen who hadn't already been run out to the mound. The Diamondbacks were pretty depleted in general, with only starting pitchers out as possible pinch hitters- apparently, if the game had gone on much further, Gibby was thinking of having Prado pitch.

Fortunately, we didn't find ourselves in that situation. After a few innings of futility, with only a Cliff Pennington single and a Gerardo Parra stolen base in the fourteenth to make sure the offense was still awake. But Jason Kubel, having spent most of the day quiet at the plate, drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the sixteenth. Ian Kennedy was called upon to pinch hit, putting down a sacrifice bunt to advance Kubel, and Pennington gave us a single to right center that brought Kubel around to score, giving the Diamondbacks a walkoff win, their first series victory of the season, and surprising sense of relief for a game in early April.

Source: FanGraphs
Kicking Ass: Cliff Pennington (+46.5%)
Taking Names: Josh Collmenter (+29.1%), Matt Reynolds (+28.9%), Martin Prado (+27.2%), Aaron Hill (+25.5%)
Stepped in Bubblegum: Brandon McCarthy (-42.4%)

Now, that chart seems to fall asleep about the end of the fifteenth- add a bit more squiggle and then have it hit the top right corner.

A lot of comments, passing 2000 on the night- imstillhungry95 led the pack, with Clefo and Zavada's Mustache taking the silver and bronze. Also stopping in: 4 Corners Fan, AJV19, Augdogs, AzDbackfanInDc, AzRattler, BattleMoses, Britback, BrokeNBattleX, Bryan J. Boltik, CaptainCanuck, Circa4life, DbackCardsFan, DbacksSkins, Electromikey, EzioExManAZ, Gravity, GuruB, Incomplete Translation, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Marc Fournier, Murricles, PR151, Rockkstarr12, Scottyyy, SenSurround, Shawnwck, ShucksBoWalter, Skii, SongBird, The so-called Beautiful, TinySarabia, TolkienBard, asteroid, azshadowwalker, benhat, blank_38, blue bulldog, cbspga, coldblueAZ, dbacks79, hotclaws, jmh1982, kishi, luckycc, onedotfive, prwhitaker1, rd33, since_98, snakecharmer, soco, and txzona.

The longest game in Chase Field history, 5 hours and 32 minutes, but a good ending to a very long evening. Josh Collmenter takes the win, Cliff Pennington plays surprise hero, Heath Bell stays in the bullpen, and I don't risk getting banned for unauthorized deployment of ponies. What more could you ask for? The Diamondbacks are probably in the air on the way to Milwaukee as I type, with an off day tomorrow and a series against the 1-2 Brewers starting up Friday.