MIAMI (AP) — Derek Jeter waited a long time for his first win as CEO of the Miami Marlins.
Not in terms of games — just innings.
Miguel Rojas’ sharp single to center brought home Brian Anderson with two out in the 17th inning, giving the Marlins a 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs in a 5-hour, 18-minute marathon that left Jeter beaming and high-fiving anyone he could reach when it was finally over.
“It’s one of those wins that feel really good for our club,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
The teams went through 14 pitchers, had 119 at-bats and combined for 34 strikeouts and 33 runners left on base. Kris Bryant homered in the top of the third to make it 1-0 Cubs; Starlin Castro tied it for Miami with an RBI single in the bottom of that inning.
The next 13 innings and four hours? Scoreless, and the night eventually turned historic.
There has only been one instance in the last 100 years of teams playing either their first or second game of the season needing this many innings to decide a winner. Kansas City and Minnesota went 17 innings in their second game of the 1969 season, with the Royals winning 4-3.
“We’re not supposed to get tired this early in the season,” Rojas said.
Going this long, this early, was certainly not on the wish list for either club.
“That’s a lot to ask out of your guys this quickly,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Odrisamer Despaigne (1-0) was supposed to pitch for the Marlins on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. as their starter in the third game of the series, not at 12:14 a.m. as Miami’s seventh reliever. But he worked a perfect 17th, capping a night where the Marlins’ bullpen (and technically one member of their rotation) allowed four hits and struck out 12 in 11 2/3 scoreless innings.
Mattingly didn’t even rule out Despaigne coming back on Saturday — which means he could get two wins on March 31.
“He threw 10 pitches,” Mattingly said.
Lewis Brinson was 4 for 8 for the Marlins, who avoided what would have been their fourth consecutive 0-2 start thanks in large part to six innings of one-hit relief from Jarlin Garcia — one of eight Miami pitchers.
Bryant and Ben Zobrist each had three hits for the Cubs. Eddie Butler (0-1), the fifth Cubs pitcher, gave up four hits and one run in seven innings while striking out five. He lasted 90 pitches before eventually giving the ball up to Brandon Morrow.
“Guys were making plays for me all over the place,” Butler said.
Morrow threw only two pitches in his Cubs debut, the last of which left the Marlins storming the field in celebration.
“An unbelievable night,” Rojas said.
Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks allowed one run and four hits in six innings. Caleb Smith threw 100 pitches over 5 1/3 innings in his Marlins debut, giving up one run and striking out eight.
Smith was asked after the game about a pitch he threw in a certain situation, and struggled to remember.
“Feels like so long ago,” Smith said.
That’s because it was.
Marlins right fielder Garrett Cooper left in the fourth inning after getting hit on the inside of his right hand. He is day to day with a bruise.
Miami already has a slew of injury woes, with seven players on the disabled list, including right-hander Dan Straily — who threw off flat ground Friday, a first step toward his return from right forearm tightness. Straily probably would have been the Marlins’ No. 2 starter (and pitching Friday) until he got hurt a couple weeks ago.
Relatives of three victims of the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High — the alma mater of Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo — were among those throwing ceremonial opening pitches. Coach Aaron Feis’ daughter Arielle, athletic director Chris Hixon’s son Corey, and Jaime Guttenberg’s brother Jesse took part, as did recovering student Ben Wikander. A check for $305,000, raised by Rizzo’s foundation, was presented to help victims’ families.
Also, Douglas’ baseball team will face Coral Springs at Marlins Park on Wednesday.
RHP Yu Darvish makes his Cubs debut Saturday night. The Marlins were scheduled to use Despaigne.