Jordan Schafer looked at the clock. It was 2:15 a.m. and he still wasn’t showered.
“I would’ve like to have been asleep a couple of hours ago,” the Braves center fielder said. “But it obviously makes it better that we won.”
Is that what just happened?
One of the longest and strangest games in baseball history ended at 1:50 a.m. Wednesday. The Braves defeated Pittsburgh 4-3 in 19 innings.
Time of game: 6 hours, 39 minutes. If seemed like if it had gone much longer, shadows from the sunrise would have started affecting the hitters.
There appeared to be less than 5,000 fans at Turner Field still left from the original crowd of 22,036. Maybe they were thinking the longer the game went, there was a decent chance they would receive a free continental breakfast.
Or maybe they just wanted a story to tell their grandchildren one day.
Or maybe they figured they might get a chance to pitch. I mean, if Scott Proctor got a chance to pitch, could it be that long before team scouts began roaming the aisles for relief help?
This game went so long that catcher Brian McCann left after nine innings with a strained oblique, the Braves announced he would go on the 15-day disabled list and by the end of the game you wondered if he was healed and eligible to be activated again.
Here are some things you missed while sleeping:
♦ The numbers: 41 players combined for 158 plate appearances and faced — ready for this? — 608 pitches from 15 pitchers. The understatement of the day came from manager Fredi Gonzalez (who actually had been ejected with Nate McLouth back in the ninth): “Both teams are going to have to push their starters a little tomorrow.” No. Really?
♦ The spectator: It was just before 1 a.m. when Proctor – possibly the most lampooned Braves player since Greg Norton – became a trending topic on Twitter. Why? Simply because he was the Braves’ last non-starting pitcher left. He sat in the bullpen watching Tommy Hanson, Eric O’Flaherty, Jonny Venters, Craig Kimbel — Hah! The closer entered in only the ninth inning! – Scott Linebrink, George Sherrill and Christian Martinez pitch. Wonder how many games of solitaire he played?
The thought occurred that the Braves were trying to avoid bringing Proctor in, given he started the night with a 7.36 ERA. (The fact Martinez threw an improbable six shutout innings of relief, a relative “quality start,” helped.) Any way, Proctor’s extending viewing became a running online gag. When told later he was trending on Twitter, Proctor said, “I was what?” You were a hot topic. “Oh, I’m sure. I’m not very well liked right now.”
♦ The absurdity: When Proctor finally got into the game, he walked his first batter. But he got the last laugh. He not only pitched two shutout innings and got the win, he had the game-winning RBI. Somehow. We were witness to the worst call by an official in the history of professional sports. (Hey, it’s late. I’m punchy. I’m entitled to make this declaration.) With Schafer on first and Julio Lugo on third, Proctor sent a ground ball to Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez. He stumbled as he took a step toward first. He joked later, “I forgot where first base was. I’m used to running to the dugout.” Alvarez fielded the ball and threw home to Michael McKenry. Lugo clearly was out by 10 feet — except on umpire Jerry Meals’ home planet. Meals called him safe. Then Clint Hurdle’s head exploded.
♦ Proctor was mobbed by teammates. It’s not the first time he has been in the middle of a mob scene. It’s just the first time people weren’t carrying torches and pitchforks.
♦ Some amusing commentary: This is from Braves general manager Frank Wren (following an eye roll and a smile): “I wasn’t close enough to make a call.”
This is from Lugo (between smiles): “He made an appreciation call.” A what? “He appreciated whether I was safe or out. I was safe.”
This is from Eric Hinske, as he walked past Proctor: “That guy can hit!”
This is from Schafer: “I started going back to second base. Then I saw Julio jumping up and down and I was like, ‘Wait, what happened? Oh. I guess we won.’ I thought he was out. But we’ll take it.”
This is from McKenry to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: “I was kind of baffled. I didn’t know what to do or what to say.”
This is from Meals, who possibly was suffering from dehydration, heat prostration or dementia, to pool reporter Mark Bowman of MLB.com: “I saw the tag, but he looked like he oléd him and I called him safe for that. I looked at the replays and it appeared he might have got him on the shin area. I’m guessing he might have got him, but when I was out there when it happened I didn’t see a tag.”
Excuse me, but: “He oléd him”?
♦ One more number: Martin Prado would like to forget this one. He went 0-for-9. The game ended with him in the on-deck circle. Fortunately.
♦ Even one more number: The Braves stranded 23 baserunners.
♦ OK, final numbers: Dan Uggla has a 17-game hitting streak. But after singling in his first two at-bats to reach and pass .200 for the first time since May 16, he went hitless with a walk in his next seven plate appearances. He finished at 2-for-8 and saw his season average drop from .202 in the third inning to .199. Millions of little children had gone to sleep thinking Uggla would finally end a day hitting over .200.
With that, I’m going home now. It’s 4:44 in the morning. Traffic should be clear.
By Jeff Schultz