Tony La Russa would have asked Rick Ankiel to pitch in the 20-inning game

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Saturday night’s marathon Cardinals-Mets game has everyone thinking about crazy extra-inning scenarios, so Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch asked manager Tony La Russa if he would have used Rick Ankiel on the mound had the pitcher-turned-outfielder still been with the Cardinals:

I would have asked him. I would have hoped he said, “Yes.” I never asked him ahead of time. I never wanted to spook him. I’d much rather put him in there. That would have been … fun.

Ankiel is now the Royals’ starting center fielder and hasn’t pitched in a big-league game since 2004, so instead La Russa trotted out Joe Mather to take the 20th-inning loss. Oh well.
Incidentally, after a rough 2009 season Ankiel is off to a good start in Kansas City, hitting .279/.333/.558 with three homers and nine RBIs in 12 games.

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.

Rich Hill took a no-hitter into the bottom of the 10th . . . and lost it on a walkoff homer

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Los Angeles Dodgers starter Rich Hill took a perfect game into the ninth inning against the Pirates tonight. He’d make it through nine with the no-hitter intact and come out to pitch the tenth. He’d leave the game the loser. Sometimes baseball isn’t fair.

Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison hit a leadoff walkoff homer in the bottom of the 10th inning on Hill’s 99th pitch of the night. Up until that point the only blemish on the box score was a Logan Forsythe error that allowed a runner to reach in the bottom of the ninth. Hill worked around that, however, and came out for the 10th. In so doing he was the first pitcher to take a no-hitter into extra-innings since Pedro Martinez did it on June 3, 1995.

On that day Martinez allowed a leadoff double in the bottom of the 10th inning and left without a perfect game, or even a no-hitter, but he still got the win as the Expos beat the Padres 1-0. Tonight Hill got neither the perfecto, the no-no or the win. He would strike out ten batters, however, finishing with nine innings pitched, one hit, one earned run and the loss. A tough, tough break.

But it was not just bad luck that handed him the loss. Pirates pitchers weren’t perfect — not by a longshot — allowing eight hits and walking four. But for all of that bending, neither starter Trevor Williams (8 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 4 BB,  5K) nor relievers Felipe Rivero nor Juan Nicasio broke, shutting out the Dodgers.

The last Dodgers pitcher to toss a no-hitter: Clayton Kershaw on June 18, 2014 against the Rockies. The last Dodgers perfect game: Sandy Koufax on September 9, 1965 against the Cubs.

But hey, at least Hill did something no Dodgers pitcher had ever done before: an extra-inning complete game one-hitter loss. In fact, no one has done that since Harvey Haddix famously lost his perfect game in the 12th inning in 1959. Bobo Newsom did it in 1934 too. So: a pretty exclusive club. Even if Hill likely didn’t want to be in it.