1993: 22 Innings

Tuesday August 31, 1993

The Twins and Indians were in sixth place in their respective divisions on the last day of August in 1993. With both teams double-digit games out, they started what was a relatively meaningless series at the Metrodome on a Tuesday night. Before the game was over, however, it was early Wednesday morning.

Here’s Dennis Bracken’s report from the Star Tribune:

The Twins and Cleveland Indians came to the Metrodome on Tuesday night to conclude the August portion of their schedules. Instead, they brought in the month of September.

The two teams were in the bottom of the 22nd inning when Pedro Munoz hit a leadoff homer that lifted the Twins to a 5-4 victory. Brett Merriman gained the victory and combined with relievers Larry Casian, Carl Willis, Rick Aguilera, Mike Hartley and George Tsamis for 15 scoreless innings.

The game was the longest in terms of time in team history (6:17; the former record was 5:47, set on May 12, 1972, against Milwaukee) and equalled the longest in innings played in team history (the first 22-inning game was played against Milwaukee on May 12, 1972).

How long was the game? The longest in Cleveland history, the Indians having played 21 innings against the Chicago White Sox in 1973. It was the longest game ever at the Dome, both in innings and time (the previous longest Dome game was a mere 16 innings, a 6-2 loss to Texas on June 11, 1986; the previous longest Dome game in terms of time came when the Twins defeated Texas 3-2 in a 4:53 game on June 6, 1987).

This also was the longest game in the major leagues this season. Chicago and Kansas City played 15 innings on June 12 for the previous AL high; the previous longest game in the majors this season was 20 innings by Los Angeles and Philadelphia on July 7.

There was a time only a few summers past when ninth-inning rallies seemed almost commonplace at the Dome. A time, too, when the Dome was considered a safe haven from miseries inflicted of the road.

But in the summer of 1993, the Dome has mostly been just one more arena of heartache for the Twins. Last night offered a reminder of what once was for anyone who can still recall “Dome Magic” of ’87 or the glories of ’91.

The Twins came from a 4-1, eighth-inning deficit, scoring twice in the eighth and then tying the score on successive two-out doubles in the ninth inning by David McCarty and Terry Jorgensen.

Rare? The Twins were 1-70 before last night when trailing after eight innings. They entered the game having lost seven straight at the Dome, dropping their home record to 27-34. The Twins had lost 12 of their previous 15 games, scoring a total of 39 runs in those games.

But nothing comes easy for the Twins in ’93, especially happy endings. The Twins loaded the bases with two outs in the 15th inning, but Dave Winfield grounded out, ending the threat. Then, in the 20th, Jeff Reboulet lined to left fielder Albert Belle with runners on first and third and two outs.

A good number of the 17,968 fans on hand headed for the exits after Winfield and Brian Harper grounded out against Cleveland reliever Jerry DiPoto opening the ninth. But McCarty doubled, then scored on a double by Jorgensen. DiPoto escaped the inning when Belle made a splendid running catch of a liner by Chip Hale.

The Twins had fallen behind in the eighth inning with a display of futility all too common this season. With the score 1-1, Wayne Kirby beat out an infield single starting the inning. Kirby’s hit was a slow roller on which Hrbek made an off-balance throw behind starter Willie Banks.

Second baseman Chuck Knoblauch then booted Carlos Baerga’s ground ball, putting runners on first and second with no outs. A wild pitch by Banks moved both runners up a base, and Belle followed with a two-run double. Jim Thome added a run-scoring double off reliever Larry Casian.

The Twins scored twice in the bottom of the eighth, closing to 4-3, aided by an error by Cleveland shortstop Felix Fermin. Jorgensen led off with a double and scored on a single to center by pinch hitter Hale. But Hale would never have had the chance for a hit had Fermin not dropped his pop foul along the left field line.

Cleveland starter Jose Mesa was relieved by Eric Plunk at that juncture. Hale advanced to second on a wild pitch, to third on Shane Mack’s groundout and scored on Knoblauch’s one-out grounder to short.

The boxscore indicates that two players made 10 official at-bats in the game: the Twins’ Shane Mack who was 1-for-10 and Cleveland’s Wayne Kirby who was 3-for-10. Other notable lines: Brian Harper’s 4-for-8 effort and Carlos Baerga’s 4-for-9. The two teams combined to use 14 pitchers.

Mack saw 46 pitches in the game (31 of which were strikes), second only to Kirby Puckett, who saw 47 (27 strikes).

Howard Sinker estimated that about 1,500 made it through the entire game, including a couple on their honeymoon:

Nice place to spend the honeymoon, huh?

“We got here about 5:30 – came for batting practice, the food, all that,” said Bob Huot of Thief River Falls.

“We got to town Monday night,” Kathy Huot added. “Got married this past Saturday. Pretty much came down here for some rest and relaxation.”

The words came while they stood in the Metrodome concourse early Wednesday morning, a couple of minutes after Pedro Munoz’s 22nd-inning home run gave the Twins a 5-4 victory over Cleveland.

By then, Kathy’s 7-year-old son, Craig, was asleep in Bob’s arms. It was the second major league game of the youngster’s life.

It’ll count for two. Almost two-and-a-half.

“He was pretty pumped,” Bob Huot said. “He was going with the crowd pretty good until the 15th or 16th inning. Then he kind of fell asleep. He woke at the end and was pretty mad that he missed it.”

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