Dino Ebel was looking forward to filling in for Manager Mike Scioscia on Saturday night, a rare opportunity for the Angels bench coach to call the shots in a game against the Atlanta Braves in Turner Field.
“It’s fun when you get a chance to have the lineup card in your pocket,” Ebel said before the game. “You want to make decisions. You want it to be a close game. If you’re down by 10 or up by 10, it’s basic stuff. If there are decisions to be made, that’s the fun part.”
Ebel got a little more than he bargained for, a wild and crazy 4-hour 57-minute game in which he made seven pitching changes, used three position players off the bench and had pitcher C.J. Wilson pinch-hitting in the 13th inning.
But it all worked out in the end for the Angels, who blew a four-run, ninth-inning lead and a one-run, 10th-inning lead but scored five runs in the 13th to pull out an 11-6 victory over the Braves.
“What a night,” said Ebel, who is 3-0 as an interim manager, all the victories coming this year. “A roller-coaster ride, it was, but it was good, and it was fun.”
Especially the 13th inning, after the Angels took advantage of two walks and a hit batter to load the bases with no outs. Kole Calhoun, who made a game-saving catch in the 10th, delivered a run-scoring single to center, Mike Trout hit a two-run double to left, and Albert Pujols had a two-run single to center for an 11-6 lead.
“We never quit,” Trout said. “It’s not one guy who’s going to be there every game. It’s a different guy every night.”
The Angels had a 5-1 lead going into the ninth, but closer Ernesto Frieri failed to retire a batter. Andrelton Simmons and Ryan Doumit singled, Jason Heyward hit a run-scoring single, and B.J. Upton hit a line drive to right-center that nicked off the glove of the diving Calhoun for a two-run triple that made it 5-4.
Freddie Freeman’s ground-rule double tied the score, 5-5, but right-hander Mike Morin replaced Frieri and struck out Justin Upton. Evan Gattis was intentionally walked and Morin got Johnson to ground into an inning-ending double play.
“That double-play ball was huge,” Trout said. “We could have easily folded right there and lost the game, but Morin made a good pitch and picked up Ernie.”
The Angels had a chance for a storybook ending when Pujols led off the 10th with a double and scored on Josh Hamilton’s single against Craig Kimbrel, widely considered the best closer in the game, for a 6-5 lead.
Ebel turned to rookie right-hander Cam Bedrosian, who grew up in nearby East Coweta, Ga., and is the son of Steve Bedrosian, the former closer who spent eight seasons with the Braves. But with dozens of family members and friends on hand and a chance to record his first major league save, Bedrosian couldn’t hold the lead.
Tommy LaStella singled to open the 10th, and Bedrosian’s nerves appeared to get the best of him when he dropped the ball while going into the stretch for a balk.
Simmons grounded out to third, the runner holding. Ramiro Pena reached on an infield hit, LaStella holding again. Bedrosian shattered Heyward’s bat, but Heyward got just enough of the pitch to dump a run-scoring single to right for 6-6 tie.
B.J. Upton grounded to short, both runners advancing, and Freeman was walked intentionally to load the bases. Justin Upton flared a ball to shallow right, but Calhoun raced in and made a diving catch to preserve the tie.
“Kole’s catch was awesome,” Trout said. “Game on the line, that run is going to score, you have to go full-out. That saved the game, for sure.”
Gattis singled against Fernando Salas in the 11th and took second on Chris Johnson’s bunt. LaStella was walked intentionally, and Simmons lined a ball that third baseman John McDonald made a lunging grab of and threw to second for an inning-ending double play.