CHICAGO – Over the past 12 months, making history has been a common thing at the Friendly Confines.
Sunday was another case of that, only this time it was all about endurance.
Starting after 7 PM and ending after 1 AM, the Cubs and Yankees played 18 innings of baseball in front of what was a sellout crowd that had dwindled to about a third of that by the time the final inning rolled around. Records were broken as caffeine was consumed for those with the stamina to see it through till the end.
Unlike many of the historic moments over the past year for the Cubs and their fans, this one didn’t have a storybook ending.
After playing eight scoreless extra innings on Sunday night into Monday morning, the Yankees finally broke through with a run in the top of the 18th to beat the Cubs 5-4 and complete the series sweep.
The game lasted 6 hours and five minutes – the longest in the 27-year history of Sunday night baseball and 21 minutes short of the Cubs & Wrigley Field record for time of game that was set on July 29, 2014 in a win over the Rockies. During that time 612 pitches were thrown by 15 different pitchers who struck out 43 batters, a Major League record for combined strikeouts in a single game.
A game that included a three-run Cubs rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against former closer Aroldis Chapman and included one of the best defensive plays of the season when Kyle Schwarber dove in the stands for a catch ended rather quietly. With New York’s Aaron Hicks third, former Cubs infielder Starlin Castro hits a grounder to shortstop Addison Russell whose throw home was off the mark to stop the runner allowing the game-winning run to score.
Out of position players to use as a pinch hitter, pitcher Kyle Hendricks stepped to the plate with a pair of runners on and two out in the bottom half of the 18th inning and struck out. That came just after 1:15 A.M. Chicago time, ending one of the Cubs’ longest and strangest nights on a bad note.