Tyler Anderson’s no-hit bid falls short in ninth inning of Dodgers’ win over Angels
It was a no-hitter bid that began with, initially, a base hit.
In the very first at-bat of a memorable night at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, Angels outfielder Taylor Ward lifted a shallow fly ball to right-center field.
Just as Mookie Betts tracked it down, however, he collided with teammate Cody Bellinger, the impact jarring the ball loose as he crashed to the ground.
At first, the play was ruled a single by official scorer Jerry White. A few minutes later, however, the decision was switched to an error. For the next 2½ hours, a zero hung in the Angels’ hit column.
It would be eight more innings before the total changed again.
In the best performance of his career, left-hander Tyler Anderson carried a no-hitter almost all the way to the end, coming up just two outs shy of history when Shohei Ohtani blasted a triple with one out in the ninth inning of the Dodgers’ eventual 4-1 win.
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As Ohtani’s line drive evaded Betts’ diving effort near the foul line, Anderson squinted into the distance as 50,812 fans rose to their feet. As manager Dave Roberts came to the mound, he shared with his pitcher a few proud words and a congratulatory tap of his chest.
Then, Anderson headed for the dugout, tipping his cap to the crowd to complete a night he’ll likely never forget.
“You may never have a chance to do that again, in however many years of pitching,” he said. “Throwing eight no-hit — I’ve taken some into the fifth and sixth, maybe the seventh, before — but getting through eight, you just want to give it a chance.”
That much, Roberts permitted Anderson to attempt — despite the pitcher’s unheralded track record as a journeyman former first-round pick who only signed with the Dodgers this spring and began the season in the bullpen; and the manager’s well-established reputation for pulling pitchers in the middle of no-hit bids, including as recently as April when he lifted Clayton Kershaw after seven perfect innings.
“I know I’ve got this reputation as the Grim Reaper,” Roberts deadpanned, “but I’m a sports fan, too, and I wanted that just as much.”
Wednesday was also a different calculation, Roberts said. Anderson was coming off an extra day of rest. The Dodgers (39-23) will have a couple more off days before he’s slated to pitch again, as well.
Just as important, Anderson faced little stress, starting when Ward was thrown out while trying to reach second on the dropped ball in the first — a play neither Anderson, Roberts nor apparently anyone else in the Dodgers dugout realized had initially been ruled a hit — and continuing over the course of his career-high 123-pitch outing.
“Everything lined up to give him that opportunity,” Roberts said.
After working around a walk later in the first, and a hit batter to begin the second, Anderson looked unstoppable in dominating the Angels (29-35) with his underwhelming but effective 90-mph fastball, unrelenting changeup that has benefited this year from a new grip, and unusual delivery distinguished by a jerky leg kick.
He retired 17 batters in a row between the second and seventh innings, a stretch that was only snapped by his own throwing error on a slowly-hit grounder up the first base line.
Though he slipped on the mound in the fifth inning and fidgeted with his arm and elbow at various points in the game — something he said was a normal routine, not a sign of any discomfort or injury — Anderson’s pursuit of history continued through the eighth.
“You can feel the energy in situations like that,” Anderson said. “You don’t get that very often.”
Though Anderson had already surpassed his career-high pitch count before the ninth, Roberts decided to send him back to the mound to try for the final three outs anyway.
The inning began with a called third strike against Mike Trout, Anderson’s eighth strikeout of the night.
But then, on the verge of what would have been the 24th no-hitter in club history, he threw a first-pitch cutter to Ohtani that was hammered down the right-field line.
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“I kind of laughed that he dove for it,” Anderson said of Betts’ last-ditch attempt. “It’s a very nice gesture. But [he was] so far away.”
As the crowd roared in appreciation, Roberts emerged to finally remove the 32-year-old from the game.
Before taking the ball, Roberts stopped his left-hander — who is now 8-0 with a 2.82 ERA in his first year with the Dodgers — and offered him one last embrace.
“It was pure joy for him,” Roberts said. “It was his moment, that’s what I told him. He said, ‘It would have been better if I’d got two more outs.’ But it’s as good a performance as he’s ever had. … That’s a special moment regardless.”
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