Mike drop: Trout delivers for BTS leader in final at-bat
Each time a pitcher tosses a no-hitter or perfect game, people invariably wonder how the improbable could occur before their very eyes.
The answer often comes in the form of a dazzling defensive play or a prolonged plate appearance that ends in the history maker's favor, some sort of snapshot in time to help preserve a tale that will forever lie in baseball lore.
If current Beat the Streak leader Clement Uduk ends up winning the game's $5.6 million grand prize, the eighth frame of the Angels' Saturday night game against the Rangers will likely serve as that special, sensational "if not for that" moment.
Uduk's remarkable run was extended to 46 straight successful selections on Saturday behind the bat of outfielder Mike Trout, whose streak-saving single came with him down to his final strike of the night.
"[Trout] has meant ... everything to my streak," Uduk said. "Especially [on Saturday] as I hadn't chosen him in about a week and a half. Trout is the lower vertebrae of my streak."
Trout wasn't guaranteed to bat in the bottom of the eighth, and with a 0-fer in the box score and his team up by six runs, another chance to tally a hit was unlikely. The outfielder opened the inning as the fourth man due up.
J.B. Shuck, who hit second in the inning, afforded Trout an opportunity with a single off hard-throwing Neftali Feliz. Shuck ended up on first base only after receiving a huge break, though, as his at-bat was extended when catcher A.J. Pierzynski dropped a popup.
If the ball had fallen into Pierzynski's glove, Uduk's remarkable run would likely have come to a close. But as it stands, he is now more than 80 percent of the way to the largest jackpot in the history of fantasy sports.
"I was tabbing the entire evening. Once [Trout] went 0-for-2 with a walk, I thought the worst," Uduk said.
"Then he got up again and made an out. Dream was over. Dead. Kaput. Then I opened my sports app and saw he was [hitting in the eighth], 0-for-3 with two balls, two strikes and two outs. And I thought, 'Whatever. It's done. Thanks for the memories.' I look away, and boom SINGLE! ... Thank you, Mike!
Uduk is just one correct pick away from tying William Bryan for the longest streak of 2013. If the season had ended Saturday, Bryan would have won the $10,000 consolation set aside for the Streaker who ends the year atop the overall BTS standings.
"When Mr. Bryan made it to 47 behind the bats of his Braves during their lengthy win streak, all I said was, 'Go get it! Please be that guy that wins it.' To be the guy [closing in] now is pretty cool," Uduk said.
A student advocate at a high school in Oregon, Uduk has been one of the most patient Streakers of all time, making just 13 picks since his run sat at 33 on Aug. 1. Not feeling the BTS heat, the 25-year-old took a four-day hiatus just last week to embark on a trek down the Oregon trail.
Make no mistake: The recent break was not a first for Uduk, whose extreme prudence has yet to cause him harm. It's not entirely surprising, as one can't climb this far without some sort of strategy. And though he is looking ahead to a busy September schedule, Uduk is nonetheless enjoying his time in the BTS spotlight.
"Work started [Thursday] at the high school so I had no concept of anything but doing my job," Uduk said.
"[But] it's a great feeling. I'm dancing after hits and just being a little kid again."
With a permanent place in BTS lore coming closer by the day, Uduk has begun to dream of a world with a lot more money.
"The prize would definitely be used toward paying off student loans. That'd be first and foremost in my eyes," the University of Portland alumnus said.
"After that, it's up in the air: investment, travel, philanthropic endeavors ... and fueling my hunger for golfing -- cannot forget about that at all."
In Beat the Streak, participants try to establish a virtual "hitting streak" by picking one or two big leaguers per day, with their runs continuing as long as their selections collect at least one hit. In 13-plus seasons of BTS play, no one has matched Joe DiMaggio's magic number of 56, set in 1941. To win the $5.6 million prize, one must top Joe D.'s run by one.
To join the fun, visit mlb.com/bts or download Beat the Streak, presented by Dunkin' Donuts, from the Apple app store or through Google Play. Participation is free.