ATLANTA - The Nationals and Braves played 15 innings last night. The game lasted 5 hours, 29 minutes, making it the longest game, time-wise, in Nats team history.
Eighteen pitchers were used, including four starting pitchers. The only position player on either roster that didn’t see action was Nats catcher Kurt Suzuki.
The guy must have felt pretty left out. Everyone else was taking part in this awesome game, and Suzuki was the new kid in town who didn’t get picked for a kickball team.
Nats and Braves pitchers combined to throw 30 innings last night. Only 2 1/3 of those were thrown by the two pitchers who started the game. All told, 518 pitches were tossed.
Dan Haren made his 319th career major league appearance. He notched his first big league save, and had the ball in his locker afterwards.
Both Stephen Strasburg and Davey Johnson were ejected in the second inning. The game ended 4 hours and 24 minutes later. By the time the game reached the 13th or 14th inning, it was easy to forget who the heck had even started for either squad.
Justin Upton notched a platinum sombrero last night, striking out five times in a game. In his seven trips to the plate last night, the only time Upton reached base was when Strasburg drilled him in the first inning.
In the 15 innings played, the Braves didn’t have a single hit with a runner in scoring position. They went 0-for-8 in such situations.
In their 14 innings of work, Nationals relievers struck out 19 batters, which is the most strikeouts recorded in a single game by any bullpen since at least 1971, according to the Nats’ PR staff.
“Golly, what a battle,” said Adam LaRoche, who helped finally end the game with a solo homer in the top of the 15th.
I don’t usually use the word “golly,” but LaRoche is dead-on there.
“It was pretty wild,” said Craig Stammen, last night’s winning pitcher. “Both the starting pitchers for both teams were out after the second inning, all the relievers were gone, they used a starter, we used a starter. So it was kinda fun.”
Stammen was the eighth Nats pitcher to be used last night, and the last reliever left in the bullpen. He came on for the 12th inning having already thrown two innings the night before, but showed no signs of fatigue and no nerves, despite the do-or-die nature of his outing.
“Well, I figured I’m going to pitch until the game’s over,” Stammen said. “So, I’m either gonna get walked-off on, or I’m gonna win the game. Look at it that way, you’re kinda like, ‘Let’s have fun and see what happens and whatever does, that’s the way it is.’ “
Stammen worked three innings, striking out five and throwing 55 pitches. Walking off the mound after the 14th, he felt like he could’ve gone one more inning, “but it’s probably better I didn’t.”
He didn’t because of Haren, who volunteered to pitch despite having already put his body through a pretty legitimate workout earlier.
In keeping with his normal routine, Haren threw a bullpen yesterday afternoon, two days after his last start - six innings of one-run ball against the Giants on Thursday. Haren threw 30-35 pitches in the ‘pen yesterday, then lifted upper-body. He thought that would be the end of his work responsibilities for the day.
A few hours later, the veteran right-hander was telling pitching coach Steve McCatty that he’d be willing to let it rip during the game, if needed.
“The way the game was going, I mentioned to Cat that if we needed an inning or something down the road, I would take it,” Haren said after the game. “We have Gio (Gonzalez) going (Sunday). I think he’s home already, hopefully getting sleep. Jordan (Zimmermann), I don’t want to risk it with that guy. Basically it was down to me.”
Haren was greeted by catcher Wilson Ramos as he got to the mound in the 15th, trying to protect the Nats’ one-run lead. “Let’s do it,” Ramos told him. Haren then faced four batters, allowing a Chris Johnson single, topping out at 90 mph and striking out two. It was a new role for Haren, and while he had success and a lot of fun last night, he’s good avoiding save opportunities in the future.
“I think the last closer to throw 88 was Trevor Hoffman,” Haren said. “And I don’t have quite as good a changeup as him. So probably not.”
Still, Haren came through when the Nats really needed him.
“My right arm thanks him,” Stammen said. “He did a great job. He threw a bullpen today and lifted and all kinds of stuff, and came in and pitched the last inning. It’s not easy to get those last three outs.”
Music blasted in the Nationals’ clubhouse in the wee hours of the morning, the first time I’ve heard the Nats playing music after a win in weeks. It was just one victory in a mostly frustrating season, but it meant a lot.
“The vibe in the clubhouse after, it was pretty neat,” Haren said. “Coming in, being the last one in, it was awesome. We needed a game like this. Just something to pick our heads up. Come out tomorrow, hopefully win and go from there. But it was definitely cool coming into the clubhouse after that.”
Bench coach Randy Knorr said he pulled Jayson Werth in the eighth inning because of back tightness, something Knorr didn’t think was serious. Both Knorr and Johnson downplayed the notion that the Nats will need to call up pitching reinforcements for today’s game.
“It won’t get us so bad tomorrow,” Knorr said, “but it might get us a couple days from now.”
It was a long day. It was a tiring day. I still haven’t gone to bed. (I know, I’m a psycho.) But yesterday was another example of why this game can be so great.