Longo's slick slide caps tenacious D-backs win

Arizona gains ground on Chicago after longest game (4 hours, 24 minutes) of '23

September 17th, 2023

PHOENIX -- Getting his lead off second base with Gabriel Moreno at the plate, could almost see what was going to come next. So often, Longoria and his D-backs teammates have watched Moreno go the other way and hit the ball to right field.

So with Moreno down in the count 0-2, Longoria made sure that he got a good secondary lead and when Moreno hit a grounder through the right side, Longoria was on the move.

“I'm anticipating that exact play happening in my head before it even happened,” Longoria said.

Third-base coach Tony Perezchica frantically waved Longoria home, but he could have saved himself the effort. Longoria wasn’t looking at him. He was going all the way.

Seiya Suzuki made a strong throw home, slightly to the first-base side of home plate. Catcher Yan Gomes fielded the ball and dove for home at the same time as Longoria, but Longoria managed to sneak in with the winning run as the D-backs beat the Cubs, 7-6, in 13 innings.

  • Games remaining (12): vs. CHC (1), vs. SF (2), at NYY (3), at CWS (3), vs. HOU (3)
  • Standings update: The D-backs (78-72) have the same record as the Reds (78-72), but Cincinnati (which also won Saturday) holds the tiebreaker and the third Wild Card spot. Arizona is a half-game ahead of the Marlins (77-72), who also won Saturday. The Giants (75-74) are 2 1/2 back after being swept in a doubleheader by the Rockies. The D-backs do not hold the tiebreaker against the Reds or Marlins and they are 5-6 vs. San Francisco this season, with an upcoming two-game set that will determine the tiebreaker. The D-backs trail the Cubs by a half-game for the No. 2 spot, and clinched the tiebreaker over Chicago with Friday's win.

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo sat down in the media room after the game, mentally exhausted from using all but one of his available relievers and bench players and his voice hoarse from yelling, and tried to sum up what was the longest game in the big leagues this season at four hours and 24 minutes.

“It's such a critical time of the year and we're in such a huge race, and for these guys to step up and do what they did today was amazing,” Lovullo said, his eyes welling up slightly. “And I'm so proud. I don't even know where to start.”

Then he started with Longoria. The 37-year-old is not fleet of foot, and he had sat around for 13 innings before being called on to pinch-hit, but he used his veteran experience to help get himself maybe a half step.

“I was trying to get myself loose [between pitches], like shuffling off and getting back and like trying to just loosen up my legs,” Longoria said. “I'm trying to get as big of a secondary lead as I can.”

The slide and reach with his hand? Pure instinct.

“I didn't do that on purpose,” Longoria said. “And I'll be honest with you, I think I must subconsciously have understood that he was on the inside [part of the plate] and going to be coming towards me if he caught the ball. So I mean, as I was sliding I probably felt like I was a little bit too far on the outside of the plate and for whatever reason decided to reach in. I didn't plan on doing that.”

It was the culmination of a big week for Moreno, whose wife gave birth to their first child while the team was in New York last week.

The 23-year-old has shown a knack for hitting the ball the other way since joining the D-backs this year, which is why Longoria was anticipating it. But while Longoria could not explain why he slid the way he did, Moreno knows exactly why he’s so good at letting the ball travel deep in the strike zone and going to the opposite field.

“I’ve looked at a lot of videos of Miguel Cabrera,” Moreno said. “It’s something I knew was going to help me as a hitter, and I’ve focused throughout my career on having this ability.”