After two runners were hit by balls to end games, here are five bizarre baseball conclusions
Five of the weirdest ways baseball games have ended
West Coast baseball got a little weird on Saturday. In the top of the ninth inning in their game against the Giants, the Angels' comeback bid came up short when Matt Joyce's liner bounced off Taylor Featherstone to end the game. It was an odd finish, one that was even stranger than Featherstone being the only player in the 100+ years of Major League baseball to have "Feather" somewhere in his name.
That wasn't all. A few hours later, the D-backs had the tying run at the plate in the top of the ninth while trailing the Dodgers, 6-4. Unfortunately, David Peralta's hit caught Jordan Pacheco as he ran toward second and another game ended on a deflection.
Said manager Chip Hale after the game:
But baseball, thanks to its long history, esoteric rules and the random chaos that guides the universe, has had hundreds of games end in bizarre ways. Here are five of the best:
The Blue Jays get picked off three times in a row
When the Blue Jays and Orioles went to extra innings on Aug. 24, 1983, things got a little strange.
Cliff Johnson led off the top of the 10th with a home run to give the Blue Jays a 4-3 lead. After Bobby Bonnell singled, the Orioles' Tippy Martinez was brought in from the bullpen. And that's when the Blue Jays completely forgot how to run the bases.
Martinez then picked off Bonnell, before walking Dave Collins. The reliever then picked off Collins before giving up a single to Willie Upshaw. Martinez completed the trifecta by picking off Upshaw to end the inning. I can only assume Upshaw subscribed to comedy's rule of threes and knew he had to help complete the narrative.
Said the reliever after the game:
Even stranger, Martinez had only one more pickoff the rest of the season and never had more than two in any other year. It's also the most pickoffs for any pitcher throwing fewer than six innings in a game. (The record for most in a game is four.)
Down by a run going into the bottom half, Cal Ripken Jr. tied the game with a solo shot before Lenn Sakata smacked a three-run job to give the O's the victory. While this one didn't technically end on three straight pickoffs, we think it's absurd enough to belong.
Luis Castillo's dropped ball
With the Mets leading the Yankees 8-7 on June 12, 2009, Alex Rodriguez came to the plate with two on and two out in the bottom of the ninth. He hit a towering pop fly to shallow right field -- the kind that a) gave the runners time to race around the bases and b) provided Luis Castillo with plenty of time to think about life, love and where he'd want to go to celebrate the victory later that night once he caught the ball.
Unfortunately, Castillo must have become consumed by his thoughts and he dropped the ball, allowing both runs to score. We can only assume "He dropped the ball!" played in a loop in Castillo's head that night -- kind of like "Laces out, Dan."
Trick play ends the game
Though not from the Majors, this is one of the most fun. With Division II's Carson-Newman leading 7-4 with two outs in the top of the ninth on April 13, 2011, Maryville had a runner at second base. Rather than face the hitter, reliever Mike Mullin faked a throw to second base, the shortstop dove for the non-existent ball, and, as the video description says, the center fielder took off in pursuit of the phantom throw.
As soon as the baserunner ran for third base, all Mullin had to do was toss the ball for the easy out. That's the kind of trick play Pinky and the Brain would come up with -- only this time it worked.
The 24th-inning error
You could probably chalk this one up to a very tired shortstop.
On April 15, 1968, the Mets and Astros teamed up to play nearly 24 innings of scoreless baseball. The teams combined for 22 hits, 12 walks and 35 strikeouts, but no runs. Given that both starters pitched a "complete game" -- Tom Seaver allowing only two hits in 10 innings of work -- and four different batters received 10 at-bats, combining to hit 2-for-40, it's not shocking that this one remained deadlocked at zero.
In the bottom of the 24th, the Astros' Norm Miller led off with a single before being balked to second. After an intentional walk put runners on first and second, Miller took third on a fielder's choice. One more intentional walk and Miller came in to score on Al Weiss' error. It was the only error committed by the Mets in the six-hour ballgame.
Shockingly, an estimated 3,000 people were still in attendance at the end of the game, two innings after then-Astros president Judge Roy Hofheinz announced that he wanted someone to score so he could go to bed.
Games 3 and 4 of the 2013 World Series
It's strange enough when one game ends on a strange call. It's even stranger when it happens in the World Series. And it's stranger still when it happens on back-to-back World Series games. That's when it really does seem like our reality is nothing but a computer simulation with out-of-date virus definitions.
With the series knotted at one game apiece, the Cardinals came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth of Game 3, the score tied at 4. With one out and runners at second and third, Jon Jay hit a sharp grounder back to Dustin Pedroia. After Pedroia got the second out at the plate, Jarrod Saltalamacchia tried to nail the advancing Allen Craig at third base. The throw went wide and Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks was called for obstruction when he tripped up Craig (already not the most fleet of foot) as he was coming around third.
Needless to say, Pedroia's mood ring would probably have exploded had he been wearing one on the play:
The Red Sox would get their revenge a night later. Up 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth of Game 4, Craig again reared his head, lacing a one-out single against Koji Uehara to bring the tying run to the plate. After Kolten Wong was brought in to pinch-run, Matt Carpenter popped out. With two outs and Mr. October II, Carlos Beltran, at the plate, Wong was picked off first base, ending the game. The Cardinals wouldn't win another game in the Series.