They also had to endure getting just one hit from the ninth to the 16th inning and a spectacular catch by Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber, who dove into the left-field seats to run down a pop foul in the 12th inning.
It was fitting that in a game that featured a major-league record 48 strikeouts, the last came when Chasen Shreve fanned Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks with runners at first and second to end the game. (The previous record, 43, was set in 1971 in a 20-inning game between the Angels and the A’s.)
“It was a gritty performance by our guys,” the Yankees’ manager, Joe Girardi, said after completing the sweep of the defending champions, which gave the Yankees five consecutive wins, a half-game lead over Baltimore in the American League East and, at 20-9, the best record in baseball.
Luis Severino pitched superbly for the Yankees, allowing only four hits and one run over seven innings, Aaron Judge delivered a booming run-scoring triple, and Jacoby Ellsbury hit a two-run homer. But those events took place earlier in the evening before many in the crowd of 40,584 gave in to temperatures that hovered near 40 degrees and the clock drew closer to midnight.
In the end, the Yankees’ heroes were typically unsung ones — relievers Jonathan Holder and Shreve, the sixth and seventh pitchers of the night, who combined to allow two hits over the final six shutout innings, striking out eight.
“That’s the longest game I’ve ever been a part of,” Holder said.
The longest Major League Baseball game, between the White Sox and the Brewers in 1984, lasted eight hours and six minutes over 25 innings.
For Shreve, it was a memorable performance — he twice faced Kris Bryant, his former high school teammate in Las Vegas, including in the 18th after retiring the first two batters. He walked Bryant, then Anthony Rizzo was intentionally walked because Strop’s spot was up, and the only option for Cubs Manager Joe Maddon was to use another pitcher to hit, so he chose Hendricks.
Facing Hendricks required a reminder that all Shreve needed to do was execute his pitches and he would be fine. Facing Bryant was another matter.
“It’s a funny thing,” said Shreve, who got Bryant to fly out in the 16th. “When me and my buddies talk about it back home, oh, when you face Kris, you talk about those situations. What if he comes up in a one-run game in the last inning? You try to forget who’s up there and treat him like any other reigning M.V.P.”
The reward Shreve and Holder get may be a trip to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, since they both have minor-league options, and they will be unavailable Monday night, having thrown 44 and 33 pitches, respectively, and the bullpen is in need of fresh arms.
Shreve, who was sent down to make room for fifth starter Jordan Montgomery earlier this season, has yet to allow a run in seven innings this season.
“I want to pitch well here, I think I can pitch well here, so tonight was very satisfying,” Shreve said. “I just have to keep getting better.”
It hardly seemed like the Yankees were in store for such a long night when Chapman took the mound in the ninth, having been handed a 4-1 lead.
But Chapman, who had allowed one run all season, walked Russell and allowed a single to Jon Jay to begin the inning. He struck out Willson Contreras, but Albert Almora singled to score Russell, and Javier Baez — after fouling off three two-strike pitches — singled to score Jay, narrowing the Yankees’ lead to 4-3.
Chapman rebounded to strike out Kyle Schwarber, but with runners at second and third and a 3-1 count on Bryant, Girardi ordered Bryant walked to load the bases. Chapman then hit Rizzo on the forearm with his first pitch, forcing in the tying run.
After 35 pitches, Chapman was removed for Tyler Clippard, who sent the game to extra innings by retiring Ben Zobrist on a grounder to second.
Adam Warren, who also received a World Series ring on Friday, having spent the first four months of last season with the Cubs, struck out Russell and retired Contreras on a grounder to strand Rizzo at third to end the 12th inning.
On and on it went, until Hicks came to plate in the 18th. It had been a frustrating night for Hicks, who struck out four times and had been hitless, but he leaned on a skill that he had spent time in the off-season honing: bunting.
“You see how Strop a lot of times throws the ball underhanded, you figure that maybe he has a problem with some touch throws,” Girardi said. “That’s why we did it.”
Hicks dropped his bunt down, but it was not far enough to get to Strop. Contreras, who played the entire game behind the plate, sailed his throw into Hicks and past Rizzo, allowing Hicks to reach second. Ronald Torreyes bunted him to third, and then Castro hit a sharp grounder to the left of Russell, who was playing in.
Russell gloved the ball, and a good throw might have had Hicks, but his off-balance throw was up the first-base line. As Hicks slid past the plate, the earlier signs of frustration were gone. He did not kick at the dirt or slam his batting helmet down, as he had done earlier in the game.
He popped up from his slide and was mobbed in the dugout, realizing it felt much better to feel beat than beaten.