SAN DIEGO — Fernando Tatis Jr. — tired, frustrated, maybe even a little bored from all that time standing in the outfield — couldn’t help but crack a smile as he approached third base on his home-run trot as Wednesday night bled into Thursday morning.
The San Diego Padres hadn’t produced a hit in 10 innings and hadn’t registered a single extra-base hit in a game that by that point had reached the bottom of the 15th.
But of course Tatis, 0-for-6 on the night and riding a 1-for-24 slump, hit a game-tying two-run homer after the Los Angeles Dodgers finally broke through with a couple of runs in the top half of the inning.
Of course Tatis’ batted ball only went out after bouncing off the top of the right-field fence.
And of course this game moved into the 16th inning.
It finally ended then, when AJ Pollock, the hero in another tight game between these two budding rivals on Tuesday night, smacked a two-run homer to lead off the top of the 16th, sending the Dodgers to a laborious, methodical, perplexing 5-3 victory from Petco Park.
“I’m pretty beat, but you feel a lot better after a win,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, whose team has won 15 of its last 17 but remains 2 1/2 games behind the San Francisco Giants in the National League West.
“It should count as two. Unfortunately it doesn’t.”
This game — the longest by three innings since Major League Baseball incorporated an automatic runner on second base in extras at the start of the 2020 season — finally ended at 12:59 a.m. PT. It lasted five hours and 49 minutes and was composed of 19 pitchers who threw a combined 489 pitches.
Three of those pitchers, all members of the Padres, came to bat. Two others, Walker Buehler and Blake Snell, began the marathon by engaging in an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel, combining to allow only two runs and record 43 outs, 18 on strikeouts. The Padres, losers of 10 of their previous 12 and suddenly fighting just to qualify for the postseason, held a 1-0 lead until Will Smith hit a game-tying home run off Snell in the eighth inning.
The score would remain there for another six frames.
The Dodgers, capitalizing on the pitcher’s spot eventually being situated after Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth in the middle of the Padres’ lineup, issued eight intentional walks, the most since that statistic was tracked in 1955. At one point in the game, Kenley Jansen recorded his 1,000th career strikeout, joining Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman as the only relievers to record that many on one team. Later, after midnight, another Dodgers reliever, Brusdar Graterol, celebrated his 23rd birthday.
The two teams went a combined 7-for-51 with runners in scoring position and left 35 runners stranded on the bases, four of which were thrown out between third base and home plate. Entering the 15th, the Padres were 0-for-18 in walk-off opportunities.
“This was really weird,” said Snell, whose Padres remain a game behind the Cincinnati Reds for the second NL wild-card spot. “Both teams have stacked lineups, can really hit, and I mean, when did we score more than just one run? The 15th inning? What is that? It was just weird.”
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