Angels use American League-record 12 pitchers in 11-9 victory over the Athletics in 11 innings
Five times, the Angels manager made the oddly long walk from the visiting dugout to the mound at the Oakland Coliseum, pulling his pitcher in the middle of an inning. Eleven times, Mike Scioscia swapped pitchers, more than any other manager in the American League’s 117-year history.
The Angels are playing longer games and deploying more pitchers than baseball has ever seen. Their record-setting September continued Monday in an 11-9 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
Scioscia is a vehement opponent of the rule that allows teams to carry up to 40 players on their active roster in the season’s final month. But he is not above taking advantage of the situation.
“You manage to what your roster is,” Scioscia said. “If you’ve got a 16-man staff, maybe you won’t use 12, but surely you can use 10.”
He has a 16-man staff, and on Monday he utilized 12 pitchers, shattering the previous franchise record of nine. Six threw 10 pitches or fewer. Three failed to record an out. None recorded as many as 10.
So, the game lasted 4 hours 38 minutes. The Angels have played four consecutive games that lasted at least 3 hours 49 minutes, something that had never before happened in major league history.
Last week in Anaheim, the Angels thrashed the A’s Chris Smith, a 36-year-old right-hander who took a storybook path to the big leagues but lacks the stuff of consistent major league pitchers. His fastballs travel too slowly and his breaking balls do not break sharply enough.
The Angels were elated to learn over the weekend that they would face him again Monday.
Again, they crushed him, reaching base 10 times in 19 plate appearances and launching three home runs. Catcher Martin Maldonado hit two, both to straightaway center field.
Smith’s ineffectiveness helped the Angels combat another poor start from rookie right-hander Parker Bridwell, who lasted only into the fourth inning. Bridwell struck out five but gave up six runs on seven hits. Most harmful was a three-run double by Khris Davis in the first inning.
Scioscia pulled Bridwell after the first two batters reached base in the fourth inning. After Bridwell made two pickoff throws to first base, Scioscia turned to veteran Jesse Chavez, who gave up only one run.
As the pitchers piled up, the game got progressively weirder. In the eighth inning, pinch-runner Eric Young Jr. sprinted back and forth between first base and second, first trying to steal second before rushing back when Calhoun lined out to right, then turning back to second when the throw to first did not reach its target.
To introduce some order, Scioscia turned to the dependable Yusmeiro Petit to handle two innings. The Angels’ seventh pitcher held the A’s to an infield single.
So it went until the bottom of the ninth, when closer Blake Parker gave up a two-run, two-out, score-tying home run to rookie first baseman Matt Olson.
That meant extra innings. In the top of the 11th, Calhoun delivered a two-run triple. Three relievers split the bottom of the inning. Rookie right-hander Keynan Middleton, who was supposed to take the day off, induced a double play to earn the save.
The Angels (71-67) are only the second team in American League history to deploy six or more pitchers in five consecutive games.
They moved to within a half-game of the Minnesota Twins for the American League’s second wild-card slot. If the Angels are to complete the unlikeliest of achievements and qualify for the playoffs, the next four weeks will probably include many games such as Monday’s, if not quite as extreme.
Twenty runs. Twenty pitchers. One victory.
“That’s what it took to get a win today,” Calhoun said. “Hopefully, tomorrow’s not exactly like that.”
The Angels recalled third baseman Jefry Marte from triple-A Salt Lake. Their active roster of 33 players will grow to 34 on Tuesday, when right-hander Garrett Richards is activated to start. …The Angels claimed right-hander Dayan Diaz off waivers from the Houston Astros, who had designated him for assignment when they claimed Cameron Maybin off waivers from the Angels, the teams in effect completing a waiver trade. The Angels designated right-hander Daniel Wright for assignment to make room for Diaz.
Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura
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