In a game that stretched 19 innings, and spanned 6 hours, 37 minutes of a summer Sunday, players, a sellout crowd at Rogers Centre, and a whopping television audience, all watched with fascination, derision, bemusement, and so many times, appreciation for a baseball’s game’s theatrics.
Among the fleeting and indelible moments from the Blue Jays’ 6-5 victory over the Tigers:
Ninth inning, Toronto: The Blue Jays score a run to tie the Tigers, 5-5. It was then, on a 3-2 count, one pitch from ending in a Jays victory before Joba Chamberlain, with the bases load and two out, struck out Juan Francisco to send this contest into the 10th — and history.
11th inning, Detroit: With one out, Alex Avila launches a long drive to left-center that appears to many, including Avila, to be a home run. But the ball caroms off the top of the wall and Avila is stuck with a double.
“I thought I got enough of it,” said Avila, who had raised his right arm and fist in celebration, only to find he was two bases shy of a round-tripper. “The ball looked like it had disappeared. Then I saw ’em (outfielders) fielding it.”
13th inning, Detroit: Bryan Holaday draws a one-out walk and sprints to third when Andrew Romine lashes a hit to left that comes within a stitch of bouncing over the glove and head of left-fielder Melky Cabrera. Romine makes his turn and is given orders from first-base coach Omar Vizquel.
“Omar told me to go to second,” Romine said after the game, “so I went.”
The relay is cut off and Romine is stuck between first and second in a rundown. Holaday is unable to break for home. Romine reverses field several times during the chase and finally breaks for second where he slides head-first and is ruled safe. But on a replay, it is decided he was tagged a millimeter before he grabbed the bag.
“I know he tagged me, but I was falling to the ground — I don’t know if he got me in time,” Romine said. “When I’m tagging people, I can’t even tell. And what we see on the screen (scoreboard) isn’t the only angle they see in New York.”
15th inning, Toronto: Colby Rasmus leads off with a double against the right-center field fence. He is stuck at second when Munenori Kawasaki pops a bunt to third baseman Eugenio Suarez. Following a ground-out by Jose Reyes, the Tigers intentionally walk back-to-back hitters, Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista, to load the bases. Tigers reliever Pat McCoy gets Francisco on a ground-out to second.
16th inning, Detroit: Ian Kinsler gets a one-out infield single and speeds to third on Cabrera’s single. Victor Martinez is intentionally walked to load the bases with one out, setting up a force-play around the diamond. Torii Hunter cooperates by slapping a grounder to pitcher Chad Jenkins, who fires to the plate for one out on the front end of a 1-2-3 double play that destroys the Tigers’ best late-inning scoring chance.
17th inning, Toronto: One of the more unusual plays in baseball fittingly happens in a game filled with the unconventional. With runners at first and second, one out, and Joe Nathan pitching for the Tigers, Francisco rips a liner to right that Hunter nearly gloves but traps against the turf. It looks like a single for Francisco, except the runner at first, Melky Cabrera, must play halfway for fear of being doubled up if Hunter makes the catch. Hunter is able to throw to second for a force-out on Cabrera. Nathan gets Dioner Navarro on an inning-ending ground-out to Romine at short.
18th inning, Detroit: After Kinsler collects a one-out single, Miguel Cabrera drives a Jenkins pitch on a long, towering arc just right of dead-center, 400 feet away. Rasmus chases after it, leaps, and catches Cabrera’s drive against the fence. Victor Martinez follows with an infield single to put two aboard. But Hunter grounds out, unassisted, to first base.
19th inning Toronto: Don Kelly pokes a leadoff single to right field. With one out, Holaday mashes a long liner to right-center that Rasmus hauls in. Romine strikes out, stretching the Tigers’ scoreless string to 15 innings.
19th inning, Toronto: The Jays win it after loading the bases against Rick Porcello. On a 1-2 pitch, Kawasaki gets just enough of Porcello’s curveball and strokes a leadoff single to left-center. Reyes drops down a sacrifice bunt. Porcello misfires on his throw to first for an error, sending Kawasaki to third as Reyes hangs at first. Melky Cabrera is intentionally walked to load the bases. With the Tigers again playing for a ground-ball force at any base, Bautista slams a game-ending drive against the right-field fence, ending the longest game in Blue Jays history.