Third-longest AB on record results in ...

Cards catcher Wieters battles Twins lefty Thielbar in 19-pitch epic

September 9th, 2020

ST. LOUIS -- kept swinging and swinging and swinging. kept pitching, pitching and pitching some more.

The Cardinals catcher and Twins reliever engaged in an epic battle in the third inning of St. Louis' 6-4 win in the second game of Tuesday's seven-inning doubleheader. With the bases loaded and two outs, Wieters fouled off 14 pitches in a 19-pitch at-bat before Thielbar got him to fly out to the center-field warning track, ending the inning and escaping the jam after the Cards went up 5-2 in that inning.

Pitches 10 through 15 were all fastballs that Wieters fouled off into empty seats at Busch Stadium. Pitch No. 16 was a high slider. Thielbar threw 10 consecutive 3-2 pitches in the strike zone.

"I guess after coming in and walking a guy, walking in a run, I was just kind of determined not to do another one," Thielbar said. "Even still, I can't believe I threw that many strikes in a row. You just never know when something crazy's going to happen in this game. Just one of those things where sometimes you run into a guy, that for whatever reason, just doesn't put the ball in play. It's wild sometimes. I've never seen anything like that, personally, much less being the one actually on the mound for it."

Wieters was trying not to look up at the scoreboard to see how many pitches he was at, wanting to stay locked in. And as a veteran catcher, he was trying not to guess or look for a specific pitch Thielbar might throw.

"I knew it was going to take everything to try and get a hit and drive in two runs there," Wieters said. "One pitch for a hit might have been better than 19 for an out."

Finally, Wieters launched a fastball that looked like it was going to get out. Twins center fielder LaMonte Wade Jr. backed up to the warning track before making the catch.

"The longer you go on in one of those at-bats, the more I feel like the advantage shifts to the hitter," Thielbar said. "Barely fouled off a couple of curveballs I believe, then chopped a couple of fastballs, and as it wore on, started hitting the ball harder and harder and harder. Luckily, when he did put it in play, it was to center field [and] not anywhere else, because if it had been anywhere else, it may have gone out."

The 19-pitch plate appearance was the most pitches to a Cardinals batter since pitch counts have been tracked (1988). The most prior was 17 pitches seen by Rick Ankiel on April 16, 2008, which ended in a walk. It was the longest plate appearance for any Twins pitcher going back to 1988; the most prior was when Brad Radke threw 17 pitches to Seattle's Darren Bragg on June 16, 1995. Bragg ended the at-bat with a single.

Wieters' plate appearance was also the most pitches seen by any player in a bases-loaded plate appearance since pitch counts have been tracked (1988), according to's Sarah Langs. The prior high was 15 four times.

The 19 pitches were two pitches away from tying the Giants' Brandon Belt's 21-pitch at-bat against Angels pitcher Jaime Barria on April 22, 2018. The 21 pitches in that at-bat, which lasted about 13 minutes, were the most on record (since 1988) for a single trip to the plate.

The Cardinals' dugout was incredulous as Wieters continued the at-bat. Tommy Edman said a few were hoping for an even 20 pitches. More than a few were hoping for a grand slam -- and Wieters only missed by a couple of inches.

When Wieters came into the dugout to put his catcher's gear on for the fourth inning, he admitted he had to catch his breath after taking that many swings.

"Sadly, I would like to say that I wasn't running out of breath, but I was," Wieters said with a grin. "I might need to work on some cardio. That's probably the most swings I've taken in a day this year so far."