Over the span of three days during the dog days of the 1972 season, the two eventual pennant winners of that year -- the Cincinnati Reds and the Oakland Athletics -- got tangled up in a pair of marathon contests. The Reds were the first to have to slog through extra, extra innings, waiting for pinch-hitter Joe Hague to single in the winning run in the bottom of the 19th on Aug. 8 to defeat the Dodgers, 2-1. Then on Aug. 10, the A's Joe Rudi knocked out a two-run home run in the bottom of the 19th to make Catfish Hunter a 15-game winner for the season.
Since Rudi's heroics, the next 41 seasons brought just 15 more instances of a walk-off win coming in the 19th inning or later, and only three of those seasons seeing more than one. In 1973, there were two, with one coming early in May (from the Phillies) and the second (via the White Sox) coming late in that same month.
Twenty years later, the 1993 season saw the Phillies have one on July 7 and then the Twins offer a counter on Aug. 31. Just three years ago, the Phils and Braves each had one, but those two were separated by a couple of months. No season had been able to quite match up to that '72 campaign when it came to squeezing two into such a short window, until the Angels' Albert Pujols and the Blue Jays' Jose Bautista produced these victories in back-to-back days this past weekend.
In a six-hour, 37-minute marathon Sunday afternoon that lasted 19 innings and saw the Tigers and Jays combine to leave 43 runners on base, Toronto defeated Detroit, 6-5.
In the win, Melky Cabrera was 3-for-5 with five walks (two of them intentional). Cabrera is the seventh player since 1914 to reach safely at least eight times in a game, but only the second of the seven to do this in a win.
• Max Carey (July 7, 1922): six hits and three walks in a Pirates loss
• Lou Gehrig (Sept. 5, 1927): four hits and four walks in a Yankees loss to the Red Sox
• Johnny Burnett (July 10, 1932): nine hits in an Indians loss to the Athletics
• Stan Hack (Aug. 9, 1942): five hits and four walks in a Cubs win over the Reds
• Rocky Colavito (June 24, 1962): seven hits and a walk in a Tigers loss to the Yanks
• Rod Carew (May 12, 1972): five hits and three walks in a Twins loss to the Brewers
Cabrera -- who entered the All-Star break third in the American League with 117 hits -- owns the most hits in the league so far in the season's second half (36). The switch-hitter has a slash line of .400/.481/.600 since the break. Among players with at least 100 plate appearances in the second half, Cabrera is second in the Majors in batting, second in on-base percentage and first in slugging.
For the game, Toronto left 24 runners on base, shattering its previous record in a win of 18 stranded. The Blue Jays are the seventh team since 1914 to leave at least 24 on and still come away with a victory. Four winning teams have stranded 25:
• Astros on July 11, 1970, in a 5-4 win against the Giants
• Senators on Sept. 14, 1971, in an 8-6 victory over the Indians
• Dodgers on July 27, 1990, in a 5-4 win against the Braves
• Royals on June 6, 1991, in a 4-3 win over the Rangers
Tigers leadoff hitter Rajai Davis was 0-for-8, with a walk. He's the second Tigers leadoff hitter since 1914 -- joining Brian Hunter on July 20, 1998 -- to take an oh-fer with at least eight at-bats. Overall, he is the 29th leadoff hitter since 1914 to do this. Teams to see their leadoff hitter do this are 14-13 with two ties.
Blue Jays batters drew 14 walks to go along with 17 hits. Tigers batters drew five walks to go along with 22 hits. It's the 40th time since 1914 a game has seen both offenses reach safely at least 27 times. The Jays' team record is 32, set in a 24-10 win against the Orioles on June 26, 1978.
The previous longest game in Blue Jays history was played on April 19, 2001, when they lost to the Yankees over five hours and 57 minutes. This game was the longest for the Tigers since they played a seven-hour affair and lost to the Yanks on June 24, 1962.
Kershaw's excellence stands alone
Clayton Kershaw allowed one run on six hits and two walks in eight innings -- an outing that developed into a win for the left-hander, as the Dodgers defeated the Brewers, 5-1.
Kershaw has won 11 straight decisions, a streak that encompasses 13 starts and dates back to June 2 (he has a 1.16 ERA over this stretch). The last Dodgers pitcher to capture 11 straight decisions: Orel Hershiser, who won 11 in a row in 1985 from July 18-Oct. 2.
Kershaw's ERA+ stands at 199, a year after leading the National League with a 194 mark. For all pitchers since 1893, there have been two to have multiple seasons with an ERA+ of at least 190 through their age-26 seasons. Walter Johnson did this in 1912-13, and Hal Newhouser did it in 1945-46.
Royals bash, dash to another victory
The Royals used home runs from Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon and some baserunning proclivity from Nori Aoki and Jarrod Dyson to defeat the Giants, 7-4. With the victory, Kansas City finished off a three-game sweep of San Francisco while improving to 15-7 since the All-Star break.
With the Tigers' loss, the Royals -- now winners of seven straight -- are a half-game off the lead in the AL Central. Last season, the Royals boasted the AL's best winning percentage in the second half of the season (.614). This year, they once again lay claim to the Majors' best.
The Royals are also 38-11 (.776) when they homer. The overall MLB winning percentage under this qualification stands at .599. With 71 long balls, the Royals are still last in the Majors.
In the win, Aoki had three steals and reached base safely four times, while Dyson stole three bases. Alcides Escobar added one additional swipe. Aoki and Dyson are the first set of Royals teammates to each have three steals in a game.
The seven steals are the most for the Royals since they swiped eight bags (to set a franchise record) against the Orioles in a 9-5 win on Aug. 1, 1998.
Here and there
• In the Indians' 4-1 win over the Yankees, Carlos Santana drew his AL-leading 82nd walk of the year and notched the 400th free pass of his career. Santana is the 27th player in history to have at least 400 walks through his first five seasons, and one of five switch-hitters to do this.
Those four others: Lu Blue (428), Mickey Mantle (412), Jim Gilliam (405) and Miller Huggins (403). Among the 27 players with at least 400 through their first five years, Santana's 129 OPS+ ties him with Rickey Henderson for the 16th highest.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.