Brandon Phillips awoke early Friday in a Chicago hotel, caught a flight to Dallas and arrived at Globe Life Park 21/2 hours before the first pitch. There, the new Angels second baseman learned he would be hitting leadoff for the first time in two years, and he was surprised.
"They're throwing it all at me at one time," he said he thought to himself. "But I can handle it."
Phillips dressed, took batting practice and began the game by walking against Texas Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels. In a controversial call many hours later, he was ruled to have made the game's penultimate out at second base, though some camera angles appeared to show he reached safely on Mike Trout's groundout. Others were less conclusive.
That was only the last of the altogether outrageous occurrences in one of the longest nine-inning games ever played. In a contest replete with twists, challenges and pitchers, the Angels lost 10-9.
"I can tell you one thing," Phillips said of his first day as an Angel. "It was a long day."
At 4 hours, 33 minutes, the Angels' disheartening defeat was the third-longest nine-inning game in baseball history. Two mid-2000s games between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox were the only ones to last longer, and the bottom of the ninth inning was played each time, unlike Friday.
"I had my money on five hours," shortstop Andrelton Simmons said.
The Angels acquired Phillips and left fielder Justin Upton ahead of Thursday's deadline to add playoff-eligible players. In their debuts, their presences paid off offensively but, notably, not defensively.
After Hamels walked Phillips to begin the game, Albert Pujols doubled to score them both. Taking a 2-0 lead to the mound, Angels left-hander Tyler Skaggs induced a routine grounder from Delino DeShields, but Phillips took his time fielding it and threw late to first base. After three stolen bases and a double, the Rangers tied the score.
Skaggs found more trouble in the second, repeatedly failing to throw his fastball where he wanted. He let on three of the first four men he faced, loading the bases. Choo then lofted a routine fly ball into left field, where it glanced off of Justin Upton's glove, allowing the go-ahead run to score. Next, Elvis Andrus blooped a single into short right field, where three pursuing Angels could not reach it. That scored two more runs. Joey Gallo's massive home run to begin the third forced Skaggs' exit.
"This loss is on me," Skaggs said. "I can't shy away from it. I need to pitch better, and if I don't, they'll find somebody else to take my spot."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia turned first to Fernando Salas, and then seven more relievers, including Troy Scribner, who started Tuesday. Both teams boasted 10-man bullpens.
The first three Angels to emerge from the bullpen threw well before Keynan Middleton struggled in the sixth, serving up three consecutive hard-hit balls. The first went as a triple, the second a 447-foot home run. After a lineout and a groundout, Carlos Gomez launched another homer.
In the Angels' fifth, a Pujols single scored Trout and Upton after both men had notched two-out hits. The Angels extended the rally with an error and a hit batsman, loading the bases for C.J. Cron, who ripped a ball to third base, right at Gallo. He slammed his helmet to the dirt in anger.
A bases-loaded situation came to Cron again in the seventh, this time without an out. He drilled a double to the right-field wall, scoring two. Cliff Pennington notched a sacrifice fly to score a run before the inning ended.
When Trout popped out to start the eighth, it snapped his career-high streak of reaching base in 11 consecutive plate appearances. Upton followed with a single, and Pujols singled for his fourth hit of the night. Simmons' tapper back to the mound scored Upton, and Kole Calhoun's sacrifice fly scored Eric Young Jr., who pinch-ran for Pujols and stole second base.
That tied the score 9-9. Texas untied it in the bottom of the inning, scoring the go-ahead run on a Cam Bedrosian wild pitch.
In the top of the ninth, the Angels again mounted a comeback. With one out, Pennington and Phillips singled, and Trout grounded to third. After fumbling the ball, Gallo threw to second, just as Phillips' left foot reached the base. "I really thought I was safe," Phillips said. "I think a lot of people thought that, too."
The Rangers intentionally walked Upton. Then, batting in Pujols' spot, Young hit into a game-ending forceout.
The Angels were encouraged by their offense, discouraged by the game's result, and frustrated with the time it took to reach it.
"I gotta get used to these long games in the American League," Phillips said. "When I first get to the hotel, I'm knocking out."