First batter in 2 years? 22 pitches, 12 minutes

March 14th, 2021

One batter. Spanning 12 minutes. 22 pitches -- six over 100 mph.

And one walk.

Welcome back, . Meet .

In the Mets' 7-5 victory Sunday at Clover Park in his first outing in an officially scored game since June 22, 2019, Hicks was put to the test immediately. Entering to start the bottom of the fifth, Hicks' first pitch was a 99.8 mph called strike on the black to the Mets' second baseman. Hicks' second delivery was an 89.2 mph slider that Guillorme whiffed at.

An 0-2 count early. The Cardinals’ right-handed flamethrower seemed to pick up just where he left off. Oh, how naive we all were.

Guillorme would foul off each of the next two pitches. Then he took his first ball. Then the fun began.

To cheers from the Mets' dugout -- amping up with each pitch -- Guillorme fouled off five more as Hicks showed the New York infielder his full arsenal. Guillorme took a pair of back-to-back balls on pitches Nos. 11 and 12 to run the count full. Then he fouled off nine more.

And on the 22nd pitch -- an 89.4 mph slider taken low -- he walked, with one of the hardest-earned free passes in recent memory.

“Hell of a job by him,” Hicks said. “Way to battle.”

“I have never seen anything like it,” said Mets manager Luis Rojas.

“I'm just happy I ended up with the walk,” Guillorme said, “because if I would have gotten out, that would have been not fun for me -- all that work for nothing.”

The longest recorded at-bat in regular-season history was a 21-pitch epic between the Giants' Brandon Belt and the Angels' Jaime Barria on April 22, 2018, which ended in a flyout.

Manager Mike Shildt and the Cardinals have been exposed to something like this before, with Matt Wieters working a 19-pitch epic last season. But Sunday -- a pitcher making his return from injury, a hitter with a penchant for viral moments and in the first throws from a hurler entering a game -- was different.

“That was definitely unprecedented for my baseball career,” Shildt said.

Receiving a full day of work in one batter, Hicks was removed from the game after Guillorme reached first base. The plan was for one inning in his first outing since undergoing Tommy John surgery in June 2019 and opting out of the ’20 season as a high-risk individual (Type 1 diabetes). The Cards just didn’t expect that to come in one batter.

Guillorme, for his part, got one more at-bat on Sunday.

He lined out on the first pitch he saw.