'Just a weird, weird night': Cincinnati Reds drop 13-inning thriller to Cardinals
Nearly five hours after the Cincinnati Reds paid tribute to future Hall of Famers Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina before their final game at Great American Ball Park, Pujols left his own parting gift.
Pujols drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the 13th inning on a sacrifice fly, earning a standing ovation from the St. Louis Cardinals fans in the crowd, and Lars Nootbar followed two batters later with a two-run homer to hand the Reds a 5-3 loss Wednesday in their longest game of the season.
It’s hard to capture everything that happened between the pregame ceremony shortly before first pitch and a wild 13-inning game that featured 418 pitches. There were no runs in the 10th, 11th or 12th innings despite an automatic runner on second base for extra innings, just the third time that’s happened in Major League Baseball all year. Both bullpens pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings before reaching the 13th inning.
The Cardinals, featuring one of the best offenses in baseball, went 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position, left 13 men on base and still won. The Reds had two runners thrown out at the plate in extra innings and left 19 men on base, the franchise’s highest total since a 16-inning loss to the Montreal Expos on May 2, 1976, according to Baseball-Reference.
Chase Anderson, who signed with the Reds last weekend and started Monday’s game, jogged to the bullpen during the 12th inning after they exhausted all their relievers, gave up three runs on one hit and took the loss.
“I think it’s frustrating for both sides,” said Reds third baseman Kyle Farmer, who nearly needed to serve as an emergency catcher after Austin Romine was tagged on the eye in the 12th inning. “Me and (Paul) Goldschmidt were just laughing when he had to go run at second base. We were just like, ‘What are we doing?’ That’s just baseball. Gosh, I was 0-for-6. That’s never happened in my career. You go 4-for-4 one game and then you go 0-for-6 the next day. That’s just baseball. They have one of the best lineups in the game and can’t score a run until the last inning. Just a weird, weird night for both sides.”
The Reds, searching for a walk-off hit, left two runners on base in the 10th inning and the bases loaded in the 11th and 12th innings. Colin Moran was thrown out at the plate on a poor throw from shortstop Tommy Edman in the 11th inning, but Molina spun and applied the tag. The Reds thought Moran may have slid underneath the tag, but the call stood on a replay review.
Romine was thrown out at the plate on an accurate throw from Edman in the 12th inning as the Cardinals repeatedly used a five-infielder defensive alignment.
“I’m not the fastest guy in the world,” said Romine, who was the last out of the 11th inning on a close play at first base. “I tried to make a play and got tagged in the face.”
The Reds had three hits in extra innings, but two didn’t leave the infield. Jake Fraley, who entered the seventh inning and finished with four at-bats, hit an RBI single to right field in the bottom of the 13th inning. They had the tying run on first base with one out in the 13th before a strikeout and a fielder’s choice groundout ended the four-hour and 48-minute marathon.
“It was definitely emotional,” Reds Manager David Bell said. “To their credit, infield in, ground balls where it took perfect plays to keep the game alive. That’s what they did. They played a great game as well. We gave them everything we had to win that game. It’s unfortunate either team had to lose.”
The Reds had six relievers with scoreless appearances, but multiple players pointed to rookie left-hander Reiver Sanmartin, who pitched in the 10th and 11th innings.
In the 10th inning, with a runner automatically on second base, Sanmartin was tasked with pitching against the heart of the Cardinals lineup. He struck out Corey Dickerson, walked Paul Goldschmidt after he didn’t receive a borderline call on an inside fastball and he induced a double play versus Nolan Arenado.
There were two runners on base in the 11th inning for Molina, who was given a commemorative and engraved bat along with Pujols. The Cardinals fans in the crowd of 13,163 chanted, “Let’s go Yadi! Let’s go Yadi!” Molina seemingly always came up with big hits against the Reds in his 19-year career and this was one more chance to put a thorn in the side of his divisional rival.
Sanmartin, who was 8 years old when Molina made his debut, struck out Molina on three pitches.
“We hung with them blow for blow,” Romine said. “That was a really good baseball game. We had opportunities. They had opportunities. I thought Sanmartin did an unbelievable job. I think a lot of us were trying to win the game for him.”
Said Bell: “The great part is (Sanmartin) didn’t back down. You’re facing some of the best right-handed hitters in the game, maybe the best. He attacked. He trusted himself and attacked with his best stuff. That goes a long way.”
The Reds went nine innings without scoring after Jonathan India and Nick Senzel hit back-to-back RBI singles in the third inning. The lead was gone after Arenado hit a two-run homer off the left-field foul pole in the fourth inning.
Then it was a battle of the bullpens and each side refused to budge. Buck Farmer entered in the seventh inning with two runners in scoring position and one out. He escaped after a strikeout and he induced a groundout against Goldschmidt, the leader to win National League MVP with a month left in the season.
The Reds had a runner on base in every inning except the first inning, but they failed to produce as Nootbar’s 13th-inning homer turned into the difference.
“I just didn’t get the job done,” Anderson said. “You have to go out there and get the job done when your name is called.”
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Reds lose 13-inning thriller to St. Louis Cardinals