Blue Jays, Marlins emerge victorious in pair of marathon games

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The Rangers, Blue Jays, Marlins, and Mets combined for 38 innings of baseball as the four teams engaged in two marathon games this afternoon. The Jays defeated the Rangers 4-3 in 18 innings while the Marlins emerged victorious over the Mets 2-1 in 20 innings.

It is the Jays’ second game lasting at least 17 innings in the last nine days, as they lost 4-3 to the Padres in 17 on May 31. They jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third against Rangers starter Yu Darvish on a two-run triple by Colby Rasmus, who scored on Jurickson Profar’s throwing error. Jeff Baker hit a solo home run in the seventh to put the Rangers on the board, the only blemish on Mark Buehrle’s line over seven frames. In the ninth against closer Casey Janssen, the Rangers scored twice on an A.J. Pierzynski RBI single and an Elvis Andrus sacrifice fly to tie the game at three apiece.

From there, the Jays relied on a handful of relievers while the Rangers called on Ross Wolf to make what turned out to be the equivalent of a start. Wolf entered in the 12th and didn’t leave until two outs in the 18th when the Jays walked off. With one out, Emilio Bonifacio singled. Wolf was trying to keep Bonifacio’s lead to a minimum and attempted to pick him off at first base, but made an errant throw which allowed Bonifacio to move to third base with one out. Rajai Davis got ahead 1-0 before singling to left to drive in the winning run.

As a Redditor pointed out, the pitchers of record were Aaron Loup (winner) and Ross Wolf (loser). “Loup” is French for “wolf”.

Today’s 18-inning affair matches the longest in Jays history, set on July 28, 2005 when they defeated the Angels 2-1. It is the longest game in Rangers history.

In the National League, Marlins starter Jose Fernandez went pound-for-pound with Mets starter Matt Harvey. Fernandez held the Mets to one run — a Juan Lagares RBI double in the second — over six innings. Harvey held the Fish to one run — a Chris Coghlan sacrifice fly in the fourth — over seven innings. He left the game with lower back tightness.

Both teams quickly exhausted their bullpens before relying on starters. For the Mets, Shaun Marcum held the Marlins scoreless on two hits over his first seven innings with seven strikeouts. He tired in his eighth inning of work, however, surrendering three consecutive singles to Placido Polanco, Rob Brantly, and Adeiny Hechavarria to put the Marlins up 2-1. Kevin Slowey held the Mets scoreless on eight hits over seven innings, striking out eight in the process. Steve Cishek pitched a scoreless 20th for the save.

It was the first game of 20 innings or longer for any Major League team since the Mets defeated the Cardinals 2-1 in 20 on April 17, 2010.

It is tied for the longest game in Marlins history. The Mets and Cardinals went 25 innings on September 11, 1974.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.