After the Blue Jays two games in one against the Rangers last week it got me thinking, what are the longest games in franchise history?
Since it just happened all Jays fans now know that the longest game is Jays history was 18 innings. Including last week’s game against the Rangers it’s happened twice. Toronto has also gone 17 and 16 innings a few times through the years. A few of those games were all about pitching and in most of them the bullpens were stellar in extra innings to keep the game going, and going, and going.
Before we start counting down some of the longest games let’s make one clarification. This list is counting the length of games by innings not time. There’s one exception though. Since we’re limiting this list the Top 10 we needed a way to separate the 15 innings games as there we too many to fit in the Top 10. The easiest way to do this was by time. That brought up one other challenge though as two 1 inning games shared the exact same time as well according to records at baseball-reference. So this list actually includes 11 games with a tie at No. 10.
That’s enough rambling. Let’s look at back some of the games that seemed like they would never end. Here we go…
10. (Tie) 15 innings:
June 12, 1983, Blue Jays 6 – Angels 5
May 3, 2001, Athletics 3 – Blue Jays 3
Topping the list are a pair of games that both went 15 innings and both can in with a game time of exactly four hours and 29 minutes. The first of those games took place on June 12, 1983 when the Jays edged the Angels 6-5 in 15 innings.
The game started out as a pitcher’s duel between Dave Stieb and Byron McLaughlin as both teams remained scoreless through six innings. Neither starter factored in the decision obviously as Stieb went eight innings, allowing two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts, while McLaughlin surrendered one run on six hits in eight innings of work.
Toronto got on the board first with one run in the seventh after Barry Bonnell singled in Ernie Whitt. The lead didn’t last long though as the Angels put a pair of runs on the board in the bottom of the inning on a double by Rob Wilfong and a single from Bob Boone.
The Angels maintained the lead until the top of the ninth. Angels’ closer Mike Witt came on to try and close the door, but Whitt delivered a two-run home run to give Toronto a 3-2 lead.
The Jays sent Joey McLaughlin to the hill in the ninth to close things out, but like Witt he ran into trouble. Wilfong led off the inning with a single and after advancing to third on a sac bunt by Boone, he came in to score the tying run on a Rod Carew single. The Angels failed to score again sending the game into extra innings.
The bullpens took over and the next five innings were all scoreless. In the top of the 15th the Blue Jays broke the deadlock. Garth Iorg got things started with a lead-off single and came around to score on a Willie Upshaw triple. Cliff Johnson struck out for the first out of the inning before Lloyd Moseby was intentionally walked. Whitt struck once again with a single that scored Upshaw and Moseby scored the third run of the inning on a Bonnell single. Heading to the bottom of the inning the Jays had a healthy three-run lead.
Stan Clarke started the bottom of the inning for Toronto but got the hook after walking Reggie Jackson. Jim Acker took over and got WIlfong to groundout for the first out. Then it got messy. Boone doubled to score Jackson and DeCinces plated Boone on a single. With the Jays’ lead cut to one Acker bore down and got Carew to groundout and Foli to flyout to center to end the game.
Whitt finished the game 4-7 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored while Bonnell also had a strong game with three hits, all singles, and a pair of RBI.
In the other 15-inning, four-hour, 29-minute game the Athletics defeated the Jays 3-2 on May 3, 2001.
Oakland took a quick 1-0 lead on an Olmedo Saenz RBI-single in the first inning off Toronto starter Chris Michalak. The Jays tied the score in the second inning on a solo home run by Carlos Delgado off Tim Hudson.
Delgado went yard again, another solo shot in the fourth inning to give the Jays a 2-1 lead. Toronto held that one run lead until the ninth inning thanks to some strong pitching from Michalak and bullpen arms Paul Quantrill, Kelvim Escobar and Dan Plesac.
Toronto closer Billy Koch got the ball in the ninth, but failed to convert the save. The A’s had no trouble with Koch’s wicked fastball as Terrence Long, Saenz, and Jason Giambi delivered three-straight singles to load the bases. Long came in to score on a passed ball to tie the game. With men on second and third with none out the Jays were in big trouble.
Koch somehow got out of it. Miguel Tejada made the first out on a fly ball to right that wasn’t deep enough to score the runner from third. Koch intentionally walked Eric Chavez to load the bases and set up the force play. Koch then mowed down Ramon Hernandez and got Johnny Damon to pop out to short to end the inning.
The game headed to extra innings where both teams failed to score until the 15th. Toronto had a chance to take the lead in the top of the inning after Raul Mondesi led off with a single and Brad Fullmer was walked. Mondesi was caught trying to steal third and Tony Batista made the second out of the inning on a groundout to third. Back-to-back walks to Darrin Fletcher and Brian Simmons loaded the bases, but Jeff Frye couldn’t cash them in and struck out swinging.
In the bottom of the 15th with Pedro Borbon on the mound for Toronto, Hernandez started the inning with a single and moved up to second on a bunt by Damon. Frank Menechino delivered a single to center that scored Hernandez to give Oakland a 3-2 win.
9. 15 innings, June 22, 1990, Yankees 8 – Blue Jays 7
The Blue Jays made a late surge to send their game against the Yankees on June 22, 1990 into extra innings.
New York got on the board early with a two-run spot in the first inning. Roberto Kelly and Steve Sax both singled off Jays’ starter Jimmy Key and Kelly scored the first run on a double play by Don Mattingly. Steve Balboni followed with a solo home run to left to give New York a 2-0 lead.
The score would remain 2-0 until the third when Sax got to Key again with a single that scored Kelly to put New York up 3-0. Kelly Gruber cut into the lead in the bottom of the third with a sac fly that scored Junior Felix, making it 3-1.
Bob Geren regained the three-run led for New York with an RBI-single in the sixth and Balboni launched another solo shot in the eight to put New York on top 6-1.
In the bottom of the eighth Toronto clawed their way back. Nelson Liriano led off the inning with a walk and Gruber followed with a single to left. George Bell ripped a double to left that scored Liriano and moved Gruber to third. John Olerud brought them both home with a three-run home run that made the score 6-5. Pat Borders made the first out of the inning on a ground ball to second, but Glenallen Hill and Manuel Lee kept the rally going with back-to-back singles. Kenny Williams then tied the game with a groundout that scored Hill.
After the Jays offensive outburst in the eighth the game would remain scoreless until the 15th inning. In the top of the 15th after Willie Blair retired the first two batters of the inning former Blue Jay Jesse Barfield reached on a single to right. Deion Sanders then reached on an error by Liriano that allowed Barfield to reach third and Sanders to move up to second. Mike Blowers would make them pay for that mistake with a single that scored both runners.
Down 8-6 in bottom of the 15th the Blue Jays made it interesting after Bell led off the inning with a solo home run off Yankees’ closer Dave Righetti. That would be all Righetti would allow, as he retired the next three batters in order to record the save.
8. 16 innings, July 3, 1988, Athletics 9 – Blue Jays 8
A marathon against Oakland started off on the wrong foot on July 3, 1988. The A’s got to Blue Jays starter Todd Stottlemyre early, as Jose Canseco cranked a two-run home run in the first inning.
Facing Oakland starter Storm Davis the Jays got on the board in the second after Fred McGriff drove in Kelly Gruber on a single. Oakland got that back in the bottom of the inning, as Canseco collected another RBI after plating Mike Gallego on a groundout, 3-1 Oakland.
Toronto chipped away again in the bottom of the fifth on a Manuel Lee single that drove in Rick Leach, but Canseco answered again in the top of the sixth. Leading off the inning Canseco roughed up Stottlemyre again with a solo home run.
Duane Ward took over for Stottlemyre after a Ron Hassey single and a walk to Dave Henderson, but he couldn’t stop the bleeding. Walt Weiss and Gallego delivered back-to-back RBI singles to put Oakland ahead 6-2.
Again the Jays began slowly chipping away at the lead. George Bell smacked a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth and Jesse Barfield ripped a solo home run in the seventh to make the score 6-5. In the ninth facing closer Dennis Eckersley with two outs Lee reached first on a throwing error by third baseman Carney Lansford. Tony Fernandez made them pay with a double that scored Lee and tied the game.
With the game headed to extra innings the score remained tied until the 12th. After Tom Henke hit Don Baylor, Canseco stepped in a drilled his third home run of the day to give Oakland a two-run lead. In the bottom of the 12th Oakland had Greg Cadaret on the mound, but he surrendered a lead-off single to Lee. Fernandez delivered in the clutch again with a two-run home run that tied the game 8-8.
The next three innings remained scoreless with Toronto squandering a chance in the 15th with the bases loaded and only one out. In the top of the 16th Mark McGwire faced John Cerutti and gave Oakland the lead with a solo home run. That would prove to be the winning run as Toronto could not get to Oakland’s Todd Burns in the bottom of the inning.
Canseco finished the game 3-7 with three home runs, six RBI and three runs scored. Fernandez was the star for Toronto, going 3-8 with a home run and three RBI, while Tom Henke pitched a surprising four innings and racked up five strikeouts.
7. 16 innings, September 9, 1989, Blue Jays 7 – Indians 5
The Blue Jays faced the Cleveland Indians on September 9, 1989 in a game that took over five hours to play.
Toronto jumped all over Cleveland starter Greg Swindell in the first inning. Mookie Wilson led off the game with a single and Manuel Lee followed with a walk. George Bell delivered a single to center that loaded the bases. Fred McGriff drove in the first run of the game on a sac fly to right field. Tony Fernandez plated another run on a single to put Toronto up 2-0.
The lead would stand until the third inning when future Jay Joe Carter took Jimmy Key deep for a two-run shot. The Blue Jays retook the lead in the top of the fourth on a Wilson single that scored Pat Borders and Lee Mazzilli added to that with a solo home run in the sixth making it 4-2 Jays.
The Indians tied the score with another home run, as Brooks Jacoby clubbed a two-run homer off Key in the bottom of the sixth. Toronto jumped back on top again in the seventh after Kelly Gruber drove in Lee on a single making it 5-4 Blue Jays.
Carter victimized his future club again in the eighth. Carter ripped a solo home run off Duane Ward to tie the score 5-5.
That 5-5 score would stand all the way until the 16th inning. Tom Henke showed his stamina again with 3 2-3 innings of shutout ball, while Frank Wills picked up right where he left off with four shutout innings. That included getting out of a base loaded none out jam in the 13th inning.
The Blue Jays’ bats remained silent until the top of the 16th inning. Lloyd Moseby drew a walk between strikeouts by Mazzilli and Wilson. With two outs Moseby stole second and following a walk to Nelson Liriano and an error by third baseman Luis Aguyayo on a Junior Felix ground ball the bases were loaded. McGriff played hero with a single to right that scored Moseby and Liriano.
Wills returned to the mound in the bottom of the 16th to get the Indians in order and secure the 7-5 win.
6. 16 Innings, April 5, 2012, Blue Jays 7 – Indians 4
On opening day 2012 the Blue Jays and Indians clashed in a five hour marathon highlighted by a monster ninth inning and a big J.P. Arencibia home run.
Ricky Romero got the start for Toronto and he ran into trouble in the second inning. Romero walked the lead-off batter Carlos Santana before getting Travis Hafner to strikeout. Shelley Duncan advanced Santana to third on a double and the Indians’ catcher would score on a groundout by Casey Kotchman. Jason Kipnis would walk and Jack Hannahan torched Romero for a three-run blast to put Cleveland up 4-0.
It looked like that might have been all Cleveland starter Justin Masterson would need. Masterson went eight strong innings with the only blemish being a Jose Bautista solo home run in the fourth inning. Masterson allowed only two hits with 10 strikeouts before turning the ball over the closer Chris Perez.
In the ninth inning Perez was hammered. Following back-to-back singles by Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson to start the inning Bautista drove in Escobar on a sac fly. Adam Lind drew a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Rajai Davis. Both Davis and Johnson would come in to score on a double by Edwin Encarnacion to tie the score 4-4.
In extra innings the bullpens on both sides were dominant. Even before the extra frames Toronto’s bullpen were on their game. Romero departed in the fifth and from then on Jason Frasor, Darren Oliver, Casey Janssen, Francisco Cordero, Carlos Villanueva, Luis Perez and Sergio Santos combined to pitch 11 shutout innings. Altogether they allowed only four hits and struck out eight batters.
While Toronto’s bullpen kept the Indians at bay in extra innings the Blue Jays bats were cold. The Jays weren’t able to get anything solid going until the 16th inning. In the 16th Brett Lawrie started things off with a walk off Cleveland reliever Jairo Asencio. Omar Vizquel also reached on a fielder’s choice to the pitcher. Arencibia then stepped in and clubbed a 1-2 pitch over the wall in left field. The hit was the first of the day for J.P. and put Toronto on top for good 7-4.
The Jays mustered 10 hits in the 16 inning affair, led by Bautista who was 3-4 with the solo home run, two RBI and a pair of walks.
5. 17 innings, October 4, 1980, Blue Jays 7 – Red Sox 6
On October 4, 1980, the Blue Jays and the Red Sox almost played three full games. The two teams faced off in a double header at Fenway and the first game went 17 innings.
After the first five innings it looked like Boston was going to easily run away with the game. The Sox put at least one run on the board in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings to lead 5-0 after five.
The Blue Jays weren’t able to score until the eighth when they broke out. Red Sox starter Steve Crawford had thrown seven shutout innings before getting knocked around in the eighth. Alfredo Griffin began the inning with a fly out to center, but Lloyd Moseby and Roy Howell followed with back-to-back singles. Howell was forced out at second on a ground ball by John Mayberry for the second out of the inning. Al Woods ended Crawford’s shutout bid with a three-run home run and Barry Bonnell delivered a solo blast to knock Crawford out of the game with the score 5-4.
In the bottom of the eighth Boston got one of those runs back on an RBI single by Reid Nichols to make the score 6-4. Bob Stanley had taken over for the departing Crawford in the eighth and he stayed on the mound for Boston in the ninth. Garth Iorg led off the ninth for Toronto with a ground ball to third baseman Glenn Hoffman, but Hoffman booted it, allowing Iorg to reach on the error. Griffin advanced Iorg to second on a groundout and then Moseby hit a bomb to tie the game 6-6.
In the bottom of the ninth the Red Sox had a shot to end it and avoid extra innings. Mike Willis, pitching for Toronto got Carlton Fisk on a fly out for the first out of the inning before Dwight Evan ripped a double to left. Tony Perez was intentionally walked leaving two men on and one out. Willis got the hook and in a somewhat surprising move Dave Stieb made a rare appearance out of the bullpen. Stieb retired both batters he faced and remained in the game for the next four innings.
With Stieb in the game it turned into a bit of a pitcher’s duel between the future Jays ace and Boston’s Bob Stanley. Stanley, who entered the game in the bottom of the eighth would be the only pitcher Boston would use the rest of the way. With the game going 17 innings Stanley actually pitched 9 1-3 innings.
The game remained scoreless until the top of the 17th. With Stanley still on the mound for Boston Woods led off the inning with a single. Bonnell and Damaso Garcia were then quickly retired. With two outs Bob Davis and Iorg delivered back-to-back singles to score Bonnell and give Toronto a 7-6 lead.
The Red Sox would get two runners on in the bottom of the inning, but Toronto reliever Mike Barlow finally shut the door and ended the long game on an Evans fly ball.
In total the Blue Jays and Red Sox combined for 39 hits in the marathon session. Woods was 4-7 with a home run and three RBI for Toronto, while Evans was 5-7 with a home run and two runs scored for Boston. The most amazing stat may be that even though the game went 17 innings Boston only used three pitchers.
4. 17 innings, June 8, 1998, Blue Jays 3 – Marlins 4
The Jays and Marlins squared off in a near-double header on June 8, 1998 that saw a ton of scoreless innings.
The Marlins jumped all over Toronto starter Roger Clemens in the first inning that day. The first four batters all reached base as Todd Dunwoody singled, Edgar Renteria walked, Mark Kotsay singled and Todd Zeile also singled to drive in Dunwoody and Renteria. Clemens finally got the first out by inducing a fly ball from Cliff Floyd, but Ryan Jackson followed with another single to make it 3-0. Clemens would strikeout Gregg Zaun and Craig Counsell to get out of the inning. After the rough opening inning Clemens wouldn’t allow another Marlin to cross home plate.
In fact no one on either side would cross the plate until the eighth inning. After being held to only five hits, all singles, up to that point Toronto finally scored in the eighth. Shannon Stewart began the inning with a double to left and after Jose Cruz walked Toronto pulled off the double steal to move both runners into scoring position. Shawn Green then poked a double to right to bring in both runners. A single from Ed Sprague later in the inning plated Green and tied the game 3-3.
From there the pitchers took over again shutting down both line ups. Between the ninth and the 17th innings Toronto would record only five hits (four being singles), while striking out 12 times.
In the bottom of the 17th inning with Erik Hanson making a rare relief appearance the Marlins finally finished it off. Dunwoody led off the inning with a double and after a groundout by Renteria the Jays walked Kotsay to setup the double play. Zeile punched a single to left to score Dunwoody and give Florida a 4-3 win.
3. 17 innings, April 19, 2001, Yankees 6 – Blue Jays 5
The Toronto versus New York marathon on April 19, 2001 began with a two-spot by the Yankees in the first inning. Facing Jays’ starter Joey Hamilton with one down Derek Jeter drew a walk and scored on a Paul O’Neill double. Dave Justice and Jorge Posada drew back-to-back walks and Tino Martinez drove in O’Neill on a bases loaded sac fly.
The Yankees extended their lead to 3-0 in the third inning on a Martinez groundout that scored O’Neill again before Toronto finally struck back in the bottom of the inning. Shannon Stewart got things started with a one-out single and another single by Raul Mondesi and a walk to Carlos Delgado loaded the bases with two down. A Jose Cruz triple cleared the bases and back-to-back doubles by Brad Fullmer and Tony Batista gave Toronto a 5-3 lead.
The Yankees erased that lead in the top of the 5th after Justice clubbed a two-run home run that scored O’Neill. With the game tied 5-5 that would be the last of the scoring for a long time. The bullpens for both sides were on their game and pitched 11 consecutive shutout innings into the 17th.
The Jays should have kept the game from even going to extra innings in the ninth inning. Brian Simmons led off the ninth with a double and moved to third on a single by Alex Gonzalez. The Yankees intentionally walked Raul Mondesi to load the bases with none out. All the Jays needed was a sac fly to win the game, but Delgado and Cruz both struck out and Fullmer grounded out to second to send the game to extra innings.
In the 17th inning O’Neill once again came through for the Yankees. Following a walk to Chuck Knoblauch and a single by Derek Jeter, O’Neill also singled to drive in Knoblauch. That put the Yankees ahead 6-5 which would be the final score. O’Neill finished the game 4-9 with two RBI and three runs scored.
2. 18 innings, July 28, 2005, Angels 1 – Blue Jays 2
The first 18 inning game in Blue Jays history was a low-scoring affair against the Angels in which the two teams combined for only 18 hits and three runs.
The pitching matchup in the game pitted the Angels’ John Lackey against Toronto’s Dave Bush. Both starters pitched well enough to deserve the victory, as Lackey tossed eight shutout innings with nine strikeouts and Bush allowed one run on five hits over 8 1-3 innings.
The game remained scoreless until the top of the ninth when Juan Rivera ripped a one-out triple off of Bush. Garret Anderson and Vladimir Guerrero were both intentionally walked to set up the force play at home and a possible double play ball. The strategy didn’t work though as Jeff DaVanon, pinch running for Rivera, scored the game’s first run on a groundout by Steve Finley.
In the bottom of the ninth trailing 1-0 the Blue Jays had to face Angels’ closer Francisco Rodriguez. Russ Adams got the inning started by drawing a lead-off walk. Frank Catalanotto struck out and Vernon Wells advanced Adams to third on a single to right field. Shea Hillenbrand tied the game with another single. With runners on first and third and one out the Angels walked Corey Koskie to load the bases. Rodriguez was able to get out of the base loaded jam by striking out Aaron Hill and Gregg Zaun to send the game to extra innings.
In extra innings no one could get a hit. The bullpens for both teams retired the side in order in each of the next four innings. The next batter to reach base was DaVanon, who drew a walk in the 14th inning. The Blue Jays didn’t have another base runner until the bottom of the 15th when Corey Koskie led off with a single only to be stranded at second.
The offense for both sides remained dormant until the bottom of the 18th. Alex Rios delivered a one-out single off reliever Scot Shields and quickly stole second. Rios then advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Orlando Hudson became the hero with a walk off single to right that scored Rios as the winning run.
1. 18 innings, June 8, 2013, Rangers 3 – Toronto 4
The Blue Jays played two games in one just last week in a marathon versus the Rangers. Toronto scored first in the game, tagging Rangers’ starter Yu Darvish for three runs in the third inning. Edwin Encarnacion drew a one-out walk and moved up to second on a single by Adam Lind. After J.P. Arencibia struck out, Colby Rasmus ripped a triple to center and came around to score on an error on the throw in to third to put Toronto up 3-0.
The three-run lead looked like it might be enough for Toronto starter Mark Buehrle. He had allowed only two hits through six shutout innings before Jeff Baker took him deep on a solo home run. Entering the ninth inning the Jays still clung to a 3-1 lead with Casey Janssen looking to pick up the save.
Janssen retired Baker to start the inning, but Leonys Martin followed with a single and David Murphy walked. A.J. Pierzynski drove in Martin with a single and Elvis Andrus plated Murphy on a sac fly to tie the game.
In extra innings the bullpens held the batters at bay on both sides. Starting in the tenth inning Dustin McGowan, Juan Perez, Neil Wagner, Brett Cecil, Brad Lincoln and Aaron Loup combined to pitch nine shutout innings, allowing only three hits with six strikeouts.
The bats didn’t live up to the standard set by the pitching. The Jays had a few opportunities to win the game, but failed to capitalize.
In the 13th inning Arencibia and Rasmus started off the inning with back-to-back singles, but the Jays weren’t able to cash them in. The first two batters also reached in the 15th after Lind walked and Arencibia singled. Lind actually reached third base with none out, but again he was unable to score.
After those frustrating innings Toronto finally figured it out in the 18th. Emilio Bonifacio singled to center with one out and made his way to third after a pickoff attempt sailed into right field. Rajai Davis came through in the clutch with a single to left to score Bonifacio and give the Jays a 4-3 win.