Two postseason contenders go on historic streak of ineptitude in 18-inning marathon

·Yahoo Sports Contributor

An afternoon getaway game in Minnesota turned into a historic marathon thanks to bad weather and two historically inept offensive performances.

After a 57-minute rain delay followed by 18 innings of baseball that spanned 5 hours and 42 minutes, the AL Wild Card-leading Tampa Bay Rays topped the AL Central leading Minnesota Twins, 5-2, to avoid a three-game series sweep.

There were moments though when it felt like this potential postseason preview would never end. That’s because both offenses vanished after the Rays tied the score at two in the second inning.

The result was a run-scoring drought unlike any seen in an American League game in the last 113 years.

We tip our caps to those of the announced 31,317 fans who remained engaged in the action from beginning to end. Because 31 straight scoreless half-innings, on top of the rain delay, is about the least thrilling baseball experience we can imagine.

What makes the drought truly remarkable — and more frustrating to Twins fans — is how unstoppable Minnesota’s offense has been this season.

The Twins entered Wednesday leading MLB in runs scored (455), home runs (149) and total bases (1,389). But they couldn’t muster even a single run in 17 straight innings. That includes eight innings in which one run would have ended the game.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins set American League baseball back 113 years during their 18-inning marathon. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
The Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins set American League baseball back 113 years during their 18-inning marathon. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

On the other side, the Rays entered with MLB’s second best pitching staff in terms of ERA (3.28). The depth of their talent showed as every available pitcher was called upon in Thursday’s win.

Opener Ryne Stanek allowed two runs in two innings before the Rays rolled out eight relievers. In 16 innings, those relievers allowed just six hits while striking out 19 batters. Rays pitching recorded 22 strikeouts overall, which set a franchise record.

Credit the Twins staff too. Starter Martin Perez went seven strong, allowing just the two second-inning runs. Their bullpen put up 10 straight zeroes before Ryne Harper, pitching in his third straight game, allowed three runs.

And yes, you read that right. A Ryne started the game for one team and ended it for the other.

The 18-inning contest was the longest game, by innings, in Target Field history. The previous record of 17 was set just days ago against the Boston Red Sox. The 18 innings also tied a Rays franchise record for their longest game by innings.

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