Yesterday's rather lengthy affair was the kind of game that, had it been played in New York, I likely would have been there. And had I been at a game like that, I likely would have torn out what remaining hair I have, cried a few times, and probably tried to eat my scorecard. A game such as yesterday's comes along but once a generation. Fortunately, the game was in St. Louis. I got to pay attention to the game on the radio like a normal person.
I was stuck in one of my fabled meetings for a good chunk of the afternoon, and didn't arrive home until about the 4th inning of a scoreless game.
By the 8th inning, I was cooking and eating dinner.
In the 12th inning, I fell asleep. Somehow listening with half an ear and lying in bed just put me out briefly. I woke up, probably about 15 minutes later, and the game was still going. A text from a friend revealed what I thought: I hadn't missed much.
In the 16th inning, I made a run to the store for dessert. By time I got home, the game was still going.
But once games get past 16 innings, you really start to feel like you're getting into epic territory. This was a game where the Mets couldn't even manage a hit until the 6th inning, and just didn't seem like they were capable of even getting two hits in a row on this day. Meanwhile, the Cardinals kept getting men on base and the Mets pitchers kept stranding them because Tony LaRussa, experimental genius that he is, kept letting his pitchers bat. Once the 17th inning started, I began thinking this could go on all night, and at some point someone was going to have to say "Enough!" and propose starting over tomorrow (which, I know, is not in the rule book, but at some point you had to think it logical).
By the 18th, LaRussa, who I guess had exhausted all the pitchers he could at the plate, started sending position players in to pitch. Fittingly, the Mets couldn't muster a run against Felipe Lopez, the first to the mound. In the 19th and 20th, it was Joe Mather, who did an excellent job of minimizing damage...or was it the fact that the Mets exhibited very little patience hitting against a pitcher who isn't a pitcher. Nonetheless, the Mets managed to muster two runs off Mather, and the only reason they had to muster the second run was because their real pitcher managed to spit the first run back in the last of the 19th. So, the Mets went out and did it again in the 20th, scoring a run the best way they know how: a sacrifice fly.
Mike Pelfrey came in for the Mets in the type of outing only Ron Darling could appreciate. He'd apparently gone into the clubhouse and demanded the ball from Dan Warthen, which is just another reason to like him right about now. Of course, he didn't make it easy either, putting two men on base and getting Pujols on deck before finally retiring Ludwick for the final out of the longest game I've ever seen the Mets play, the longest game the Mets have played since 1974, and, apparently, the longest game the Mets have ever won.
When you start getting into a game of this length, and it probably took until around the 14th inning for me to do that, it begins to feel more and more pressure-packed, as though this game meant everything. Right now, every win the Mets can muster is meaningful, but once you start getting into those rarefied innings, a loss begins to feel almost catastrophic. An already tortured and angry fan base would have likely revolted if the Mets had lost, or even if Jeff Francoeur had took the mound, which is what would have happened had Pelfrey not stepped up. The Mets basically were shut out over what is tantamount to two full games, and really didn't appear to mount a viable threat offensively, and once again managed to score the runs they did without the benefit of a key hit. Even the Cardinals, who appeared just as inept offensively as the Mets did, managed a key hit.
A 20-inning victory is always noteworthy and certainly worth celebrating. But, really, how much celebrating can you do when it took the Cardinals sending position players to the mound to score some runs? You like what you see out of the pitching staff, but overall, man, a game like this just leaves you shaking your head.