On a day when baseball refuses to end

by Gary Shelton on June 11, 2017 · 3 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Longoria had five hits in the doubleheader./CARMEN MANDATO

Longoria had five hits in the doubleheader./CARMEN MANDATO

Sunday, 2 a.m.

Lawrence spent less time in Arabia.

Robert Redford spent less time running from the Condor.

Longoria had the walk-off single in the first game./CARMEN MANDATO

Longoria had the walk-off single in the first game./CARMEN MANDATO

In the Shawshank Redemption, Tim Robbins' sentence wasn't nearly this long.

They played baseball Saturday. All of Saturday. They set out to single-handedly prove why no one plays doubleheaders anymore. Slightly agitated players, worn out fans, bloodshot eyes and all that jazz.

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Hu pitched well in relief in the second game./CARMEN MANDATO

Hu pitched well in relief in the second game./CARMEN MANDATO

For the Rays, it went on for seven hours and two minutes (of baseball time), and it included 18 1/2-plus innings and 49 hits, 20 runs and 44 strikeouts and 20 pitchers and four sets of uniforms. For a split.

Whee.

In total, only 17,775 fans showed up. Certainly, two full dates -- even against Oakland -- would draw that much.

Beckham drove in two runs in the first game./CARMEN MANDATO

Beckham drove in two runs in the first game./CARMEN MANDATO

Still, it was an interesting gimmick. Call it a hardball day's night.

For the day, the Rays gave up 32 hits. They struck 23 times. Evan Longoria had five hits.

So was it a good day? Maybe. For about 15 minutes. Sure, double-headers used to be all the rage, but so did fireside radio mysteries.

And here...we...go.

1:55 p.m. – Rays take the field and attempt to look like they aren't wearing the ugliest uniforms in history. With jerseys like that, you wonder who brought the beer to the slow-pitch tournament. Or who bought the hot dogs for the bowling tournament?

Stanek has given up three homers in his lsat two appearances./CARMEN MANDATO

Stanek has given up three homers in his last two appearances./CARMEN MANDATO

2:03 – But on Raymond, the reality challenged mascot, it looks good.

2:11 – Matt Joyce, who used to hang around here some, singles to right to start things.

2:13 – Ramirez records his first strikeout.

2:16 – A's retired. I ask why the A's are represented by an elephant. Mike Sherman, the Times sports editor, looks it up and finds that Connie Mack once called them “white elephants.” God, don't you wish those old codgers had tweeted?

2:19 – Mallex Smith steps in. Construction on his statue may commence at any moment.

2:24 – Evan Longoria strikes out. Seventeen innings to go.

Mallex Smith played well again for the Rays./CARMEN MANDATO

Mallex Smith played well again for the Rays./CARMEN MANDATO

2:30 – Ramirez gets his fourth strikeout in his first five outs. Makes you wonder. How many strikeouts would Nolan Ryan have had against a team full of Dave Kingmans?

2:27 – Logan Morrison gets the Rays' first hit. Morrison has had an amazing turnaround from the way he started last season to the way he started this one.

2:40 – Colby Rasmus approaches the plate with his new walkup song “Werewolves of London.” Perfect.

2:56 – The A's score three runs in the third. Three? Whee.

Bourgos scored the winning run in the first game./CARMEN MANDATO

Bourjos scored the winning run in the first game./CARMEN MANDATO

3:12 – The Rays get out of a bases loaded jam with none out. Matt Joyce does his part, hitting into a 1-2-3 double play.

3:14 – Mallex Smith's walk-up song for the day is Superfly by Curtis Mayfield. Which makes you wonder want Kevin Kiermaier's would be if he weren't hurt. Instead of “Every Day I'm Hustling,” I mean, how about “Johnny B. Goode?”

3:23 – Evan Longoria doubles to right, putting two runners on for the Rays.

3:29 – Steven Souza singles in two runs. Souza suffers from occasional walkabout moments, but he's got a lot of ability stuffed into that body.

3:47 – I hereby offer to be Mallex Smith's agent. I'll get his face printed on money by the end of the week.

Rasmus had a single in Game One./CARMEN MANDATO

Rasmus had a single in Game One./CARMEN MANDATO

3:54 – Ramirez is driven from the game in the sixth, but the A's strand two.

4:13 – When does someone say “I'm glad the Rays drafted Tim Beckham over Buster Posey? Well, not for a while. But Beckham's two-run double added to a very nice season for the kid. These days, no one minds him in a Rays' uniform. Not even these disco uniforms.

4:15 – Tom Jones, the Times' columnist, and I are in a conversation about the who the next mayor of Quahog (Family Guy) should be now that Adam West has died. He says Burt Ward (the old Robin). I think William Shatner. Fresher jokes.

4:17 – Sometimes, bad baseball is bad baseball. Michael Martinez beats out a hit by diving head first into the bag, and Beckham – who would have been out by a mile — slides safely into home when catcher Josh Phegley forgets that he's supposed to catch the ball. Oh.

Logan Morrison played both ends of the doubleheader./CARMEN MANDATO

Logan Morrison played both ends of the doubleheader./CARMEN MANDATO

4:31 – Here's a thought. If two games is an event, why not play three?

4:44 – Tommy Hunter's nickname should be “Crocodile.” He induces a bases-loaded popup to preserve a 5-4 lead.

4:55 – Corey Dickerson steps in in a mild slump that has him at .327. Last June 11, he was hitting .194.

5:08 – Inspired by walkup song “I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore,” Logan Morrison pops to second. REO Speedwagon? Really? Were the Bay City Rollers busy? Helen Reddy?

Souza Jr. made a diving catch for the Rays./CARMEN MANDATO

Souza Jr. made a diving catch for the Rays./CARMEN MANDATO

5:20 – Steven Souza Jr. is clearly out after being picked off first, but the A's botch the rundown. The A's walkup song, collectively, should be “Oops, I Did It Again.”

5:28 – Okay, here's the plan. Next year, the Rays have Opening Day and 40 double headers.

5:33 – The A's Yonder Alonso doubles,one of seven hits he had on the day. I love players' whose name are directions. “Where did you hit it?” “Yonder.”

5:34 – Alex Colome blew the chance to get his 18th save. Maybe that's why he didn't get into the all-star game last year.

Cash watched his team split with the A's./CARMEN MANDATO

Cash watched his team split with the A's./CARMEN MANDATO

5:40 – The prospect of extra innings in a double header is the very definition of “too much of a good thing.”

6:07 – Evan Longoria, the ultimate pro, drives in the winning run with a single, his third hit of the game. It was Longoria's eighth walk-off hit, but his first in more than four years.

6:30 – In the tunnel between games, Kevin Cash spoke: “Longo has gotten tons of hits here in his career. That was one we needed and he probably needed, too. He's been spinning a little bit. Showing a little bit of frustration. Ideally, you don't want to play an extra-inning game in a double-header, so he saved us.”

6:40 – Longoria speaks: “We don't want any more extra innings in a game like today. It's been quite a while since I got a walk-off hit, so it felt good. I was just thinking “keep it simple.” I saw the ball pretty well in that at-bat. I got a mistake. The last one was right down the middle.

“It's frustrating not playing well. But that's personal. I try not to bring that to the ballpark every day. We have a lot of guys having great seasons, and I try to be a good teammate for them.”

Norris caught seven different pitchers in Game One./CARMEN MANDATO

Norris caught seven different pitchers in Game One./CARMEN MANDATO

6:54 – Game two starts. Good news: The Rays are wearing baseball clothes. On the other hand, Matt Andriese is starting, and he's been the slowest pitcher in the majors this year. Send the dogs if you don't hear from me by morning.

7:02 – Remember the Oklahoma land rush? Remember films of the running of the bulls? They looked something like this: free pizzas in the press box.

7:04 – The A's get three hits and a run in the first.

7:11 – Evan Longoria delivers his fourth hit of the game, driving in Peter Bourj0s for the second time in an hour.

7:15 – Matt Andriese struggles in his warm-up pitches. Andriese, just off the disabled list, leaves after one inning of work with a strained groin muscle, which has to put pressure on a bullpen that used six relievers in the first game.

The Rays lost Andriese after one inning to injury./CARMEN MANDATO

The Rays lost Andriese after one inning to injury./CARMEN MANDATO

7:20 – I don't know how much longer Matt Duffy will be out, but didn't Bo Jackson miss less time after they replaced his hip?

7:25 – Josh Phegley hits a home run to dead center off reliever Chih-Wei Hu. The question of the day: Would Kevin Kiermaier have had it? Answer: You'd like to see, wouldn't you?

7:45 – Fans are getting into this “Huuuuu” after strikeouts. Turns out, he's not playing first.

8:10 – Diving catch by Steven Souza. Loudspeakers play the ESPN theme.

8:12 – The star of the game so far? It's a real Hu-dunnit.

8:21 – I think the Pepsi bottle race is fixed. The water bottle is juiced.

8:23 – Things that used to be keen: Doubleheaders, picnics, Vaudeville and black-and-white TV.

Morrison lefts Bourjos after the winning run scored./CARMEN MANDATO

Morrison lifts Bourjos after the winning run scored./CARMEN MANDATO

8:25 – If Chih-Wei Hu had a medical degree, would I be watching Dr. Hu? And does he have a Tardis?

8:38 – What? The Rays pulled Hu? Why? Hu allowed two hits over four innings. It may have been the biggest hit by the Hu since Pinball Wizard.

8:45 – The A's score a third run on a bunt that just wouldn't go foul.

8:56 – Longoria, having a big day, brings the Rays within a run with a homer to left. It was the 250th of his career.

9:08 -- I'm more impressed with Ryne Stanek's distance than I am his velocity. He threw two homers in six pitches.

9:46 -- The Rays are down 6-2, going into the ninth inning.

9:52 -- Make it 7-2.

9:58 -- If the Rays were still interested in this game, would Taylor Featherston be batting?

10:17 -- After the games, Cash speaks: “You probably got the sense that it wasn’t going to be the best game when we lose our starter before the second inning even started. Pretty unfortunate there. Matt just briefly talking to him and hearing what he was talking to Ronnie about on the field, I think he felt that on his last pitch of the first inning and then went out there and in his warmups the guys kind of tipped us off and said that it was irritating him. Frustrating. We went to the bullpen quite a bit. Chih Wei-Hu, I cannot say enough about what he did. He really, really picked us up."

10:26 -- Andriese speaks: “It was the last pitch of the firsts inning. It was the same feeling. I hadn’t felt it all week. We went through the rehab process and all good. Nothing. I was going at it 100% and didn’t feel it at warmups, nothing. And then the last pitch on the changeup of the 1st inning, I felt it walking off the mound. I mean I felt it on the pitch, but after I walked off the mound and got the out. I was kind of stretching it in between innings and honestly hoping that it would correct itself. I went back out there to throw a warmup pitch and I felt it. I couldn’t push off at all.”

10:25 -- Really, I think eating a lot of goldfish (the real kind) is interesting. I think running a marathon is a fine idea. I think binging on Netflix is good. But why do it? And why play a doubleheader?

Infield waits for another reliever to warm up./CARMEN MANDATO

Infield waits for another reliever to warm up./CARMEN MANDATO

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Cecil DeBald June 11, 2017 at 9:31 am

Good column, Gary. I was there, and what with golf that morning it sure was a long day, and my energy, like the crowds, was gone by the end. But I do have to give the Rays credit for trying something (new? old? well, something) to generate some buzz. Too bad the bobblehead wasn’t Beck…

Cecil

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Larry Beller June 11, 2017 at 3:53 am

Glad you didn’t lose your sense of humor Gary. Thanks for documenting all this because I sure didn’t want to sit through it. Two things you don’t want to have happen in a double header are extra innings and losing your starting pitcher after 1 inning. So of course both happened to the Rays yesterday. I think we can safely say this should be the last scheduled double header in baseball history so save your notes on the game. Cooperstown may want them someday.

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Gary Shelton June 11, 2017 at 11:18 am

Someone else might try it. Who knows. All I know is that when I left the park last night, I would have screamed if I saw another baseball. Hah.

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