Look at it. Look at it! At four hours and twenty minutes the Arizona Diamondbacks have won the longest game by time in the 2023 season brining them within a half game of the second wild card in the National League. It wasn’t too long ago that these four hour marathons were more common now that pace of play changes have brought game times back closer to the two and a half hour mark. Four lead changes in extra innings will do that to you. I’m glad that I ran to the store to grab a thirty pack just prior to first pitch because it definitely was needed.
Going into this stretch of games against the Chicago Cubs this month I said to my wife that the Diamondbacks needed to win at least five out of seven. Despite doing just that the National League wild card race is STILL a hot mess.
The NL Wild Card race is absolute madness. pic.twitter.com/YURrQsAAb0— Jesse Friedman (@JesseNFriedman) September 17, 2023
Every team in that race won today besides Chicago and San Francisco. It is anybody’s race to win right now and this will surely go down to the wire.
Zach Davies took on Kyle Hendricks who was responsible for the Cubs only win against Arizona in Chicago last week. Davies hadn’t completed more than four innings in each of his previous outings and failed to do so again today. Without any other options, Torey Lovullo has to just hope that Davies is able to keep the game within striking distance for the offense which is what he did today. Zach struck out three of the first five batters he faced keeping the Cubs offense off the board through four innings.
Arizona scored first in the bottom of the fourth courtesy of the middle of the lineup. Tommy Pham hit a one out triple and was brought home on a ground rule double by Christian Walker. With two outs in the inning, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. singled to score Walker for the 2-0 lead.
Back-to-back gappers for the lead! pic.twitter.com/aAORRR0r72— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) September 17, 2023
Unfortunately, Zach Davies hit that wall once again and was chased from the fifth inning before recording an out failing to maintain the lead. Yan Gomes began the fifth with a double. With runners on first and second with no outs, Davies walked Ian Happ to load the bases bringing his outing to a close. Luis Frias came on in relief walking the first batter he faced cutting Arizona’s lead to one run. The Diamondbacks traded a pair of outs on a double play for the Cubs second run to tie the game but could not stop the scoring there as Cody Bellinger hit a two out single to give the Cubs the lead.
Arizona tied the game in the bottom of the sixth on a trio of singles from Walker, Alek Thomas, and Gurriel Jr. There was a bevy of challenged calls from both teams which undoubtedly added to the time of game. A pause in scoring from both sides took us into extras.
Having already used Paul Sewald in the ninth Lovullo turned to Andrew Saalfrank out of the bullpen. Nico Hoerner was Chicago’s automatic runner at second to begin extras. Leadoff hitter Chirstopher Morel hit a grounder to Geraldo Perdomo who made a nice diving stop but did not have enough time to recover and throw across the diamond for the out giving Chicago runners at first and second. Chicago employed a double steal with no outs and Gabriel Moreno made his pickoff attempt at third base. The throw was in the dirt and likely would not have nabbed the runner. Jace Peterson probably could have scooped it but didn’t allowing the ball to kick into left field. Hoerner scored on that error giving Chicago a 4-to-3 lead.
One of those aforementioned challenged calls came in the top of the tenth during Cody Bellinger’s at bat. With one out in the inning, one run already scored, and another hopeful run on base Saalfrank uncorked one at Bellinger’s hands that was initially ruled a hit by pitch. The ball had appeared to hit Bellinger in the hand, but Saalfrank played the rebound and caught the ball for the out before it hit the ground and was adamant that it hit the knob of the bat. Chicago challenged the call on the field but it was upheld for the first out of the inning. Dansby Swanson reached on a fielder’s choice that got Morel caught in a rundown between third and home. Saalfrank loaded the bases with two outs on a pair of walks, one intentional and one not, before getting Gomes to ground into the third out of the inning.
Perdomo was Arizona’s automatic runner at second for the bottom of the tenth. The Diamondbacks decided they had not had enough and didn’t feel like losing then for Corbin Carroll lined an opposite field single scoring Perdomo to tie the game. Unfortunately, neither Ketel Marte, Pham, or Walker could bring in the speedy rookie so onto the eleventh we went with the score tied at four apiece. Both teams again exchanged runs in the eleventh before a scoreless twelfth inning. Arizona actually had a chance to win it in the twelfth with the bases loaded and only one out but failed to capitalize. All they needed was anything to the outfield, but Marte swung at three breaking pitches in the dirt to kill that rally.
One swing from C.C. and we're tied right back up! pic.twitter.com/xO7FznPdiZ— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) September 17, 2023
Chicago once again took the lead in the thirteenth inning but could not put more than a one run gap between themselves and Arizona. Jake McCarthy began the bottom of the thirteenth with a sacrifice bunt moving Pham over to third. Evan Longoria took a pinch hit appearance for Alek Thomas which would have forced Lovullo to move Marte to the outfield had the game made it to the fourteenth. Longoria, understanding the gravity of the moment, worked a five pitch walk passing the baton to fellow pinch hitter Jordan Lawlar. Lawlar had a respectable six pitch at bat himself that unfortunately resulted in an infield fly out for the second out of the inning.
Right about this time my cable decided it would be a great time to start cutting in and out meaning I was forced to watch the rest of this one on my phone. Down to their final strike Emmanuel Rivera hit a liner off the forearm of Hayden Wesneski. The ball deflected to Dansby Swanson in the air but dropped in before he could make the play scoring Pham to tie the game yet again. Gabriel Moreno, also with two strikes against himself, lined an opposite field single into right field. Tony Perezchica having seen enough and ready for bed decided to send the agin veteran Evan Longoria home instead of stopping him at third to load the bases. Longoria slid head first called safe on the field ending the game in a wild 7-to-6 victory for Arizona. The play was extremely close at the plate, so Chicago with nothing to lose decided what the heck and challenged one last call to end the game. Replay review showed that Longoria slid under the tag and the call was confirmed.