Friday, August 1, 2014

Game of the Day (7/31/14)

Trade deadline day was, of course, highly eventful in off-field ways, with Jon Lester, David Price, and a host of lesser players changing teams. It was also a good day on the field, with over half of its 11 games landing in the 70th percentile or higher on the season so far. That added up to a status as one of the best non-full-slate days of the season.

Unsurprisingly, the best game was also the only one to last beyond regulation: Angels 1, Orioles 0 (13), which began with LA's Tyler Skaggs and Baltimore's Bud Norris on the mound.

Norris allowed a Mike Trout single in the first, then induced a double play from Albert Pujols. Skaggs walked Nick Markakis to open the bottom of the inning, then set down three in a row. Erick Aybar singled and Howie Kendrick walked in the second, but Aybar was caught stealing while Kendrick was at the plate, and Norris gave up nothing else.

The Angels loaded the bases in the third when David Freese and Chris Iannetta singled and Trout was hit by a pitch, but Pujols hit into another double play to end the substantial threat. Norris retired the Angels in order in the fourth, then worked around a fifth-inning Freese single.

Meanwhile, Skaggs set Baltimore's hitters down 1-2-3 in the second, third, and fourth. With two outs in the fifth, he walked Steve Pearce - and then exited with a forearm strain, departing without having allowed a hit. The hope of a joint no-hitter was extinguished immediately, as Caleb Joseph greeted Mike Morin with a single, but Morin then retired Jonathan Schoop to end the inning.

LA threatened in the sixth when Pujols doubled and Aybar singled, but Kendrick hit into a force to leave them at the corners. Morin was perfect in the bottom of the sixth, Norris allowed another Freese single and nothing else in the seventh, and Kevin Jepsen walked and stranded Delmon Young in the bottom of the seventh. Norris was pulled for Brad Brach in the eighth, and Brach threw a pair of flawless innings; Joe Smith worked around a Joseph single in the eighth, and Cory Rasmus kept the bases clear in the ninth to send the game to extras in a scoreless tie.

Kole Calhoun managed a two-out single against Tommy Hunter in the tenth, while JJ Hardy led off the bottom of the inning with a hit, but both runners were stranded. Hunter was perfect in the eleventh, while Hector Santiago allowed an Adam Jones single only to see the runner picked off by Iannetta. Freese singled against Ryan Webb in the twelfth, but nothing came of it. In the bottom of the inning, Santiago walked Chris Davis, allowed a single to Pearce, and walked Nick Hundley to load the bases; Schoop then fanned to leave all three runners on.

Calhoun drew a leadoff walk from Webb in the thirteenth, and came around to score on hits by Trout and Pujols. Brian Matusz relieved and struck out the next three Angel hitters, but Huston Street set Baltimore down in order in the bottom of the inning to finish off the game.

For yet another pitcher's duel in a week full of them, this game does have its distinctive features - like a starter not allowing any hits (which wasn't quite as cool as it normally would be), or the second four-hit game of David Freese's career. Actually, Freese and Caleb Joseph both led their teams in hits (Joseph with a towering total of two), despite both of them (a) hitting in the eighth spot, and (b) being removed for pinch runners before the end of the game.

Mostly, though, it was a twelve-inning scoreless tie that finally ended because one of the two teams finally remembered to get back-to-back hits from its two likely future Hall of Famers.

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