MIAMI — Miguel Rojas drove in Brian Anderson with a single to center in the 17th inning, and the Miami Marlins topped the Chicago Cubs 2-1 on Friday night.
It was the second career game-ending RBI for Rojas, who did it once last year with a sacrifice fly. This one will go into Marlins lore, not only for its 5-hour, 18-minute length — but moreso because it’s the first win of Derek Jeter’s era as Miami’s CEO.
Jeter was there until the end, slapping high-fives when it was finally over. It matched the third-longest game in Miami history, and was the longest ever played at Marlins Park.
It took a two-out rally to get it done. Anderson singled to left, and Cameron Maybin followed with a base hit that bounced off shortstop Javier Baez’s glove and chased Eddie Butler (0-1) after seven innings and 90 pitches of relief.
Brandon Morrow came in to face Rojas, and two pitches later it was over.
There has only been one instance in the last 100 years of teams playing either their first or second game of the season needing this many innings to decide a winner. Kansas City and Minnesota went 17 innings in their second game of the 1969 season, with the Royals winning 4-3.
Going this long, this early, was certainly not on the wish list for either club.
Odrisamer Despaigne (1-0) was supposed to pitch for the Marlins on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. as their starter in the third game of the series, not at 12:14 a.m. as Miami’s seventh reliever. But he worked a perfect 17th, capping a night where the Marlins’ bullpen (and technically one member of their rotation) allowed four hits and struck out 12 in 11 2/3 scoreless innings.
The Cubs minimized the taxing of arms as best they could.
Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks allowed one run and four hits in six innings. He was followed by three relievers, none of whom was called upon to get more than five outs, and then Chicago essentially turned it over to Butler — who allowed four hits and struck out five in his long night of work.
Marlins reliever Jarlin Garcia was perfect through his first five innings, and then gave up a hit and two walks — one intentional — in the 15th.
Kris Bryant homered and had three hits for the Cubs. Lewis Brinson had four hits for Miami, which got an RBI single from Starlin Castro.
Caleb Smith threw 100 pitches over 5 1-3 innings in his Marlins debut, giving up one run and striking out eight.
The teams traded runs in the third. Bryant hit a drive to left for his first homer, and Castro singled in Brinson in the bottom half.