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Sunday, May 25, 2014
Kernels: No need for an early departure

By Doug Kern

As the saying goes, never leave a game early.

That was especially true for fans of the Tampa Bay Rays this week, who were treated to three consecutive walk-off victories for the first time in team history. On Thursday Sean Rodriguez' three-run homer beat the Oakland Athletics, the first walk-off homer in their history to be a three- (or four-) run blast in extra innings. Friday's opener against the Boston Red Sox was scoreless until the bottom of the ninth when Cole Figueroa-- in just his eighth major-league plate appearance-- doubled home Desmond Jennings. It was the Rays' second-ever 1-0 win via walkoff; a Reid Brignac homer (off Sergio Mitre of the New York Yankees) provided the other in 2010.

Boston pitcher Andrew Miller did the honors on Saturday; his throwing error trying to start a double play at second allowed Figueroa to score his first career run for a 6-5 comeback victory. It was the second-longest game in Rays history to end in a walk-off win, topped only by David DeJesus' 18th-inning single against Baltimore last September.

The Sox had not lost back-to-back games via walk-off to the same team since July 2002.

• In their first five games in Chicago this week, the Yankees scored more runs from the ninth inning on (10) than before it (six). They got their first two wins of the year when trailing after eight, beating the Cubs in 13 innings Wednesday, and the White Sox in 10 Saturday. The Cubs game, with NL rules, saw the Yankees use 21 players, their most in a game since August 9, 1970. No AL team has used more in a game, even in September, since 2004. They also collected 13 singles and no extra-base hits in that game, just their second time doing so in the past 15 years.

• The Cincinnati Reds won Monday's game over the Washington Nationals behind Todd Frazier's homer in the top of the 15th. It was not only the latest homer by inning this season, it was the latest for Cincinnati in over 40 years! None other than Johnny Bench clubbed one in the 17th against the Philadelphia Phillies on June 2, 1972. For their part, the Nationals (and Expos) had won their previous six games (dating to 1992) of 15 innings or more, and hadn't allowed a homer so late in a game since Rick Dempsey of the Los Angeles Dodgers homered in 1989 to settle the second-longest 1-0 game in MLB history (22 innings).

• The Cleveland Indians won a game via the rare "balk-off" on Wednesday when Detroit Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque balked home Asdrubal Cabrera. It was the first such ending in the majors since July 4, 2011, when Aaron Crow of the Kansas City Royals committed one. And in the past 100 years, it is the first Indians victory or Tigers loss via game-ending balk.

• The next day the Indians scored twice in the top of the 13th, which they needed because the Baltimore Orioles' Nick Markakis hit a solo homer in the bottom half. It was the fourth homer this year in the bottom of an extra inning that did not at least re-tie the game, but the Orioles' first since April 13, 2010 (Ty Wigginton against the Rays).

The back-to-back 13-inning games were a first for Cleveland since June 20 and 21, 2003, when they played a pair of 15s in Pittsburgh. The first of those two games featured two rain delays (including one after the ninth inning) and ended at 1:37 am.

• And if it feels like "Final in 13" came up a lot this week, it did. The Royals scored three times after an Angels error in the 13th on Saturday to win 7-4. Combined with the Yankees/Cubs on Wednesday, and the two Cleveland games, there were four games in four days that went exactly 13 innings. The last time we rolled that many 13's in four days is probably a lot longer ago than you think. It was August 24-27, 1915, when the White Sox, Red Sox, Senators, and the Federal League's St. Louis Terriers all were 13-inning victors on consecutive days.