MINNEAPOLIS — It was 1:55 a.m. Eastern Wednesday when Max Kepler ended the longest game in Target Field history by driving a single just inside of first base in the bottom of the 17th inning to give the Minnesota Twins a 4-3 victory against the Red Sox.
The Sox had five fielders in the infield with the bases loaded and one out, Mookie Betts coming in from right field to play third base. But Kepler sat on a curveball from Brian Johnson and pulled it down the line.
“There was a lot of stuff weird in this game,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
Indeed there was. Here then are 17 observations about all the weirdness witnessed over 17 innings:
1. Kepler didn’t start the game but finished 3 for 5 with three RBIs. He tied the game with an RBI single off Brandon Workman in the eighth inning, then tied the game again in the 13th inning with a home run off Hector Velazquez before finally winning it.
2. It was odd that Red Sox starter David Price was taken out of the game after allowing just one run in only five innings and 73 pitches. There was no injury involved.
Here’s what Cora said: “Today was one of those that, we felt like I was going to take care of him. He threw the ball well. But as you guys know, this is a guy that we really have to take care of.”
Cora was asked if that was pre-planned.
“Kind of, yeah,” he said. “We talked about it. We’re going to take advantage of probably the next 10 day, 12 days with the off days with him . . . We have to make sure he’s OK, and he’s OK, actually. It’s just one of those that we felt that today was one of those, go short, all out and move on.”
Said Price, “It was a collective decision. That wasn’t on Alex. It wasn’t on him. I’m feeling all right. It’s going through the season. That’s part of it.”
Translation: You’re probably going to see Price start one more time this month and maybe only three more times before the All-Star break. The Sox are going to do all they can to keep him healthy for the postseason so he can perform like he did last year.
3. J.D. Martinez had the worst game of his career, going 0 for 8 with five strikeouts. His other three at-bats were a double-play grounder and fly balls to right field and left field. He left four men on base.
It was just the second time in his career Martinez struck out five times, the first since May 27, 2013, when he played for Houston. Martinez’s batting average dropped from .301 to .292.
“A lot of chasing breaking balls,” Cora said. “They threw a lot of breaking balls to him and he wasn’t able to not swing at it. One of those weird nights he was not on.”
4. The Sox have played 36 innings the last three days, the equivalent of four games. Eduardo Rodriguez, who starts Wednesday night, needs to give the Sox a solid six or seven innings.
5. Cora blew up at the umpires when the game ended, following them to the spot where they exit the field, contending that Eddie Rosario was out of the batter’s box when he fouled off a bunt attempt in the 17th inning and should have been called out.
But a replay showed that was not the case, and Cora was chagrined when he met with reporters.
“I want to apologize to the umpires,” he said. “Obviously emotions take over. They did an outstanding job. It was tough to swallow. You see it and emotions take over. That was out of character. That was my fault.”
Cora could get fined for his outburst. It got ugly for a few seconds.
6. Jackie Bradley Jr. made a completely ridiculous catch in the seventh, racing back to the warning track and leaping to snare a blast off the bat of Jorge Polanco. Bradley’s back was toward the plate when he made the catch as he landed on the outfield wall like Spiderman.
Bradley looked over to the Red Sox bullpen as he jogged back to the dugout and strutted for maybe a half-second.
“Oh he is feeling himself after that one,” wrote Bradley’s wife, Erin, on Twitter.
Said Bradley: “If I’m going to go that far, I might as well go after it. I jumped up there, tried to get my little inner Bo Jackson in and kind of hang on the wall a little bit. It was an exciting catch and an exciting moment.”
7. Hector Velazquez, who came off the injured list Monday, may be going right back on. He came into the game in the 13th inning and allowed one run over four innings before coming out with a stiff lower back while warming up to start the 17th.
8. There were 487 pitches thrown by 18 pitchers, nine for each side.
9. Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez picked off Mitch Garver at third base in the sixth to helped squelch a Twins rally. He caught his fellow catcher sleeping for a huge out.
10. But Vazquez left six runners on base in extra innings. He flew to right field in the 10th with runners on first and third. He struck out with runners on first and second to end the 12th. Vazquez popped to second with runners on second and third in the 14th. When Vazquez singled in the 16th, it was with two outs and nobody on.
11. Michael Chavis continued to impress defensively. After playing mostly second base for six weeks, Chavis has been the primary first baseman this month with Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce on the injured list.
The rookie made a number of good plays in the game, the best coming in the 15th inning. With Rosario on second after a leadoff double, C.J. Cron followed with a line drive right at Chavis.
Rosario was caught off second base but Chavis had to time his throw with Xander Bogaerts sprinting toward the bag. He ran at the base and made an underhanded flip that Bogaerts caught while stepping on the bag for the double play.
“Xander was so far off the bag I started running,” Chavis said. “I had to flip it because while you’re sprinting you can’t really make that overhand throw.”
12. The Twins came into the series with the highest-scoring offense in the game. But they have been held to four runs on 20 hits over 25⅓ innings in the first two games, striking out 25 times.
“Pretty cool to see,” Cora said. “We can pitch with anybody. We feel that way.”
13. The Sox were 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position. They left five runners stranded in scoring position from the 12th inning on.
14. It was the longest game, by innings, in the majors this season. But at 5 hours and 45 minutes, not by time. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks played a 13-inning game that lasted 6:05 minutes March 29.
15. The Sox used 20 of their 25 players. Those left watching were Rodriguez, Marco Hernandez, Rick Porcello, Chris Sale, and Marcus Walden.
Walden, a reliever, had not pitched since Sunday, but the determination was made before the game he needed a day off.
16. There was only one error, a throw from Garver that went into center field when Andrew Benintendi stole second in the 17th. Benintendi advanced to third but was stranded there when Martinez struck out, Rafael Devers grounded to first base, and Bogaerts grounded to shortstop.
17. For all the drama, Cora was oddly at peace after the game. The loss, he predicted, wouldn’t linger.
“You see how we compete, you see the dugout and the vibe and all that,” he said. “It’s something that we’ll build from this. I know that for a fact.”