Walker Buehler and Blake Snell were both brilliant on Wednesday night, but they were long forgotten by the time this one ended. The Dodgers beat the Padres 5-3 in 16 innings at Petco Park, the longest extra-inning game since the new format started in 2020.
AJ Pollock hit a two-run home run off reliever Daniel Camarena — the Padres’ ninth pitcher of the night — in the 16th inning for the game-winner.
Go-ahead, AJ! pic.twitter.com/HpWSzr7NrW— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) August 26, 2021
Since the runner-on-second rule was instituted in 2020, the previous longest MLB game was 13 innings, done four times.
“I don’t even know how many innings we played,” Dave Roberts said. “To come away with a win was huge.”
Even with a free runner on second base to start each extra frame, neither team scored a single run from the 10th through the 14th innings. The game was already loopy by this point, but then it got interesting.
The Dodgers’ first two hits with runners in scoring position did not score a run. One of them didn’t even advance a runner, since Chris Taylor had to hold at second base on an infield single by Will Smith in the 15th.
Taylor would score, thanks to Billy McKinney’s pinch-hit single off Daniel Camarena, then Trea Turner one pitch later singled home Smith, prompting Joe Davis to scream, “The floodgates have opened!” on SportsNet LA.
He wasn’t that far off.
The Dodgers only had five hits in the first 14 innings, before three hits off Camarena in the 15th. The Padres went 10 innings without a hit, from Adam Frazier’s one-out single in the fifth to Fernando Tatis Jr.’s game-tying two-run home run in the 15th inning.
It was Tatis’ National League-leading 35th home run of the season, and was his first hit in seven at-bats in the game, in which he struck out four times. It was that kind of a night.
Oh, and the home run came after Corey Knebel tried twice to commit an intentional balk to get the free runner off second base, to avoid any sign reading.
Shane Greene, the Dodgers’ 10th pitcher of the night, in just his second game with his new team, got the final three outs for the save. Greene is the eighth Dodgers pitcher to save a game this season.
“I can’t say enough about these guys. It was frustrating at times, but those guys kept putting up zeroes,” Roberts said. “This was certainly a team win.”
Despite the paucity of offense, there was still plenty of intrigue. Roberts intentionally walked two batters to load the bases in the 11th inning, bringing up pitcher Joe Musgrove, who was forced to pinch hit because Jayce Tingler used all his position players. Musgrove struck out.
It happened again in the 14th in the same fashion, this time with Brusdar Graterol pitching. He got Ryan Weathers to tap back to the box to end the threat. Roberts settled for an intentional walk with nobody on in the 15th, which made history.
The Dodgers intentionally walked eight Padres batters on Wednesday, setting a major league record. The old franchise record was six intentional walks, on July 5, 1940, by Brooklyn against the Boston Braves in a 20-inning game.
Thanks to a wild pitch, Max Muncy was on third base with nobody out in the 12th. Then with a runner on first base, Pollock’s hard grounder was stabbed by Manny Machado at third base. Muncy was far closer to third base than Machado, who looked in his direction. But Muncy, presumably thinking Machado might turn a double play, suddenly broke for home, running into an easy, yet singular out. Two more walks loaded the bases in that inning, but the Dodgers did not score.
It was that kind of a night
The opening acts
Buehler allowed only three singles and a walk while pitching at least into the seventh for the sixth time in his last eight starts. The only run scored against him was unearned courtesy of Trea Turner throwing a ball into a camera well in the second inning and a two-out slow ground ball single up the third base line by Wil Myers.
A walk to Myers with two outs in the seventh, the first free pass issued by Buehler in his last two starts, ended Buehler’s night, lowering his major-league-leading ERA to 2.02.
“Walker threw the heck out of the baseball tonight,” Roberts added at the end of his postgame session. “Yesterday,” he added with a laugh.
Buehler left with 106 pitches, the same number Snell was at through seven scoreless innings.
But on a team that has taxed its bullpen greatly of late, Padres manager Jayce Tingler let Snell continue into the eighth for the first time since July 7, 2018. Snell’s 7⅔ innings were a career high, and he even whiffed two in the inning to push his total to 10 strikeouts for the game.
But in between the two eighth-inning strikeouts for Snell was Smith launching a ball into the left field seats to tie the game at one apiece.
Yo holmes, Snell ya later! pic.twitter.com/YtXrxQ1t9K— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 26, 2021
The Dodgers had a pair of near misses earlier in the game.
One night after Pollock robbed Machado of a home run, a pair of Padres outfielders got into the act to turn the tables. Wil Myers robbed Corey Seager at the left field wall with one out in the second inning, and Trent Grisham did the same in center field to Muncy with one out in the fourth.
Neither ball were sure home runs, but at the very least could have been extra bases. The Dodgers needed all the help they could get against Snell, who otherwise allowed only a pair of singles and no walks.
Snell’s slider was particularly confounding on Wednesday, inducing 11 swinging strikes. The Dodgers were hitless in nine at-bats at ended with the slider, including finishing off three of his 10 strikeouts.
It’s been a bad season overall for Snell, with a 4.58 ERA and 4.17 FIP with the Padres. But he’s been much better in August, with a 2.12 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 29⅔ innings. The Dodgers have had trouble against Snell all year, scoring five runs off him in four starts, for a 1.96 ERA, 29 strikeouts, and a paltry .190/.252/.286 line against the left-hander.
Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth inning to keep the game tied, and by striking out catcher Austin Nola to end the frame, Jansen became the 12th pitcher in major league history with 1,000 strikeouts in relief.
Here’s how long this game was:
When this game started, it was Max Muncy’s birthday. The game is still on but now it’s Brusdar Graterol and David Price’s birthdays.— Hector Diaz (@iamHectorDiaz) August 26, 2021
Home runs: Will Smith (20), AJ Pollock (16); Fernando Tatis Jr. (35)
WP — Corey Knebel (3-0): 1 IP, 1 hit, 2 runs (1 earned), 1 walk, 1 strikeout
LP — Daniel Camarena (0-1): 2 IP, 5 hits, 4 runs (2 earned), 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Sv — Shane Greene (1): 1 IP, 2 strikeouts
Thursday night’s series finale starts an hour earlier (6:10 p.m., SportsNet LA), and also delivers a wonderful pitching matchup between Max Scherzer and Yu Darvish. Those two faced off at Petco Park on July 8, though neither made it through the fourth inning in a 9-8 Padres win over the Nationals.