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 a sacrifice fly in the top of the 13th inning, earning a standing ovation from the St. Louis fans. Louis Cardinals in the crowd, and Lars Nootbar followed two batters later with a two-run homer. The Reds lost 5-3 on Wednesday in their longest game of the season.
It’s hard to capture everything that happened between the pregame ceremony shortly before the first pitch and the 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 has happened in Major League Baseball all year. Both bullpens pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings before reaching the 13th inning.
The Cardinals, with 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 in extra innings and left 19 men on base, the 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, ran to the bullpen during the 12th inning after they had exhausted all their relievers, giving up three runs on one hit and taking the loss.
“I think it’s frustrating for both sides,” said Reds third baseman Kyle Farmer, who almost needed to serve as an emergency catcher after Austin Romine was tagged in the eye in the 12th inning. “Me and (Paul) Goldschmidt were just laughing when he had to run to second base. We were like, ‘What are we doing?’ That’s just baseball. Hell, I was 0-for-6. That has never happened in my career. One game you go 4 for 4 and the next day you go 0 for 6. That’s just baseball. They have one of the best lineups in the game and can’t score until the last inning. Just a weird, weird night for both sides.”
The Reds, looking 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 in the 11th inning on a bad throw by shortstop Tommy Edman, but Molina turned around and applied the tag. The Reds thought Moran might have slipped under the tag, but the call stood on replay review.
Romine was thrown out on an accurate throw by Edman in the 12th inning as the Cardinals repeatedly used a five-man infield.
“I’m not the fastest guy in the world,” said Romine, who was the last out of the 11th inning in a tight game at first base. “I was trying to play and I got tagged in the face.
The Reds had three hits in extra innings, but two didn’t leave the field. 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. They had the tying run at first base with one out in the 13th before a hit-and-run by a fielder’s choice ended the four-hour, 48-minute marathon.
“It was definitely emotional,” Reds manager David Bell said. “To their credit are the balls in the field where perfect plays were needed to keep the game alive. They did that. They also played a great game. We gave them everything we had to win that game. It’s unfortunate that both teams had to lose.”
The Reds had six players with scoreless appearances, but several players pointed to rookie lefty Reiver Sanmartino, who started 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 get a boundary call on an inside fastball and induced a double play against Nolan Arenado.
There were two runners on base in the 11th inning for Molina, who along with Pujols received a commemorative and engraved bat. Cardinals fans in the crowd of 13,163 chanted, “Let’s go Yadi! Let’s go Yadi!” Molina has seemingly always come up with big hits against the Reds in his 19-year career, and this was another chance to put a thorn in his division rival’s side.
Sanmartin, who was 8 when Molina made his debut, struck out Molina on three pitches.
“We hung with them blow after blow,” Romine said. “It was a really good baseball game. We had opportunities. They had opportunities. I thought Sanmartin did an incredible job. I think a lot of us were trying to win the game for him.”
Bell said: “The great thing 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 believed in himself and attacked with his best stuff. That goes a long way.”
The Reds went nine scoreless innings 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 to left field in the fourth inning.
Then it was a battle in the bullpens, with each side refusing to back down. Buck Farmer entered the seventh inning with two runners in scoring position and one out. He walked a strikeout and drew a shutout against Goldschmidt, the leadoff hitter who won the National League MVP with a month left in the season.
The Reds had runners on base in every inning except the first but couldn’t produce as Nootbar’s 13th homer turned into the difference.
“I just didn’t get the job done,” Anderson said. “You have to go in there and finish the job when your name is called.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: ‘Just a weird, weird night’: Cincinnati Reds drop 13-inning thriller to Cardinals