7 things to know about Cubs' longest game ever
It's the day after the night/morning before.
Following a few hours of sleep -- definitely overrated -- and some coffee (it's not overrated), we're back at it and headed for Wrigley Field early this afternoon for tonight's clash between the Cubs and the Colorado Rockies.
Last night was a historic one at the old ballyard. The Cubs and Rockies played the longest game in Wrigley Field history in terms of time: 6 hours and 27 minutes. The Cubs won 4-3 in the bottom of the 16th inning on Starlin Castro's bases-loaded sacrifice fly that scored John Baker.
Baker, the Cubs' backup catcher, also was the winning pitcher.
Manager Rick Renteria pressed Baker into emergency duty because his bullpen has been heavily taxed, in part because of starts last night by Edwin Jackson who lasted 4 innings and threw 105 pitches.
We have some leftover notes, quotes and facts from the marathon, which was played before an announced crowd of 28,950. At the end, there were a few faithful souls left.
So here we go:
• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Baker is the first traditional position player, as we refer to them today, on the Cubs to earn a victory as a pitcher.
In a note to the media, the Cubs say: "If we define 'position player' as somebody who played more games at other positions that season than he had games pitched, the answer is Jock Menefee in 1902. Menefee won 12 games that year, pitched in 22 total, played 18 at first base and 23 in the outfield. The problem is when you get back to the early days there was less of a distinction between pitcher and position player. Menefee is really not comparable to Baker, but that's what we've got."
• Here is more Wednesday from Cubs research historian Ed Hartig: "The last time the Cubs had a true non-pitcher pick up a win was in 1885 with Fred Pfeffer. And by a true non-pitcher, I am saying anyone who pitched in 5 or fewer games while playing a significant number of games at a field position. There are a handful of guys who pitched 2-3 games (and recorded a win) but only played 2-3 games in the field ... so are those pitchers who played the field or fielders who pitched? Pfeffer was clearly a fielder who was called into pitch in emergencies."
• Previous to Baker, the last Cubs position player to appear in a game as a pitcher was outfielder Joe Mather on Aug. 27, 2012 at Wrigley Field in a game against Milwaukee.
• Baker is a 33-year-old veteran who went to spring training with the Cubs as a nonroster man. He played for the Kane County Cougars in 2003 and has seen big-league time with the Marlins and Padres.
A good talker, Baker handled the postgame with good humor.
"I had to shake Welly a couple of times because we weren't on the same page," Baker said, referring to catcher Welington Castillo.
Baker added that a "straight, 76-mph heater" was his most effective pitch. He was more than happy to go into the game as a pitcher, and he dealt with that question in a humorous way.
"They asked me when (reliever James Russell) went out, if I'd be willing to do that," Baker said. "No, I don't want to pitch at Wrigley Field in the longest game in Cubs history on the 100th anniversary (of the park) and give myself a chance to get the win. I trust my stuff."
• The Cubs pitched shutout ball for 15 straight innings, from the second through the 16th. That included 3 shutout innings from Jackson, who gave up 3 runs in the first inning.
• It was another rough outing for Jackson, who lasted only 4 innings and threw 105 pitches. He has an ERA of 5.79 with only 5 quality starts in 22.
To his credit, Jackson sat in his clubhouse chair and waited for the media to finish talking with Baker before he came down and met with reporters. He said he was thankful his teammates picked him up.
"Unfortunately, they had to come in early," he said. "As a starter, you always want to go as deep as you can. It's been a tough stretch for me lately. I'm going out, and whatever the case may be, it seems like that anything that can happen does happen. It's just been frustrating when you feel good and you feel nice and strong, and you go out and continue to have outings like this."
• We'll leave it with Baker, a journeyman player who got to hear his name being chanted when he came up to bat in the bottom of the 16th after pitching a scoreless top half. Baker walked to lead off the home half of the inning and wound up scoring the winning run and getting the win as a pitcher.
"I got booed in Dodger Stadium after we got into a fight with the Dodgers," he said. "That was the loudest crowd I ever heard. That one was kind of sad because they were booing me. This one, I was pretty happy because they were cheering my name at Wrigley Field. Any Chicagoan's dream is to be standing at home plate with the remaining people at Wrigley Field chanting your name. Yeah, it's something I'll never forget."