07/18/11 4:07 AM ET
Late finish caps wild night for Red Sox, Rays
By Anthony Chiang / MLB.com
Little did Beckett know that eight frames of baseball, two ejections and a crazy fan stood between the end of a game that already featured a ball shattering a light bulb at Tropicana Field.
After five hours and 44 minutes, the Red Sox claimed a 1-0 victory thanks to an RBI single in the 16th inning by Dustin Pedroia. The game ended at 1:54 a.m. ET.
It was the longest and latest-ending regular-season game in Rays history.
"It felt like two games for everybody that was on the bench," Beckett said. "We had rally caps going and everything. It was pretty good for us to be out there for that. I didn't know that we all wanted to be here for this long."
The fun began in the eighth when Tampa Bay's Sean Rodriguez hit a towering foul ball that crushed a Tropicana Field light bulb on the B-ring above third base, bringing glass raining down onto the field in foul territory. The incident caused Rays third base coach Tom Foley to scurry away from his normal position to avoid any glass before the game was stopped for Tropicana Field employees to sweep it away.
But the most eventful frame was the 11th.
It started with Rays manager Joe Maddon's ejection. As he walked to the mound to bring reliever Juan Cruz into the game, he was thrown out by home-plate umpire Chad Fairchild for arguing balls and strikes. The ejection marked Maddon's fifth of the season and franchise-record 21st.
"There was definitely a point to be made at that time, and I made it," Maddon said. "We got out of the inning and that was all good."
During the at-bat following Maddon's ejection, a fan dressed in Red Sox gear made his way onto the field from the third-base side, running all the way into center field before a security guard took him down.
The craziness didn't stop there, though. After Boston loaded the bases with no outs in the 11th, Tampa Bay found a way to escape the threat as Marco Scutaro popped out to catcher Kelly Shoppach in foul territory for the third out.
In disgust, Scutaro spiked his bat and it landed between Shoppach and the stands. Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, who had taken over for Maddon at that point, rushed out of the dugout to complain about the bat throwing, but was soon thrown out by Fairchild.
"Listen, it's tough enough to catch a popup with our roof without flying bats coming by you also intentionally," Maddon said. "Dave was definitely in the right by lodging the complaint.
"I really can't believe that none of the umpires said anything prior to Dave going out there."
The most absurd part of the 16-inning game might be that a pitchers' duel between Jeff Niemann and Beckett was lost in the shuffle. The two combined to throw 16 scoreless frames.
Still, Niemann came away from the game in awe.
"That's the best game I've ever been a part of," he said. "Everything considered, it was a great baseball game."
Anthony Chiang is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.