Monday, May 10, 2010

Oh, Mother! Dallas Braden is Perfect vs. Rays; Kershaw Drops Rockies

Players of the Day for Sunday, May 9, 2010 American League A tough-minded individual, 26-year-old Dallas Braden's perfect game was about more than setting down 27 consecutive batters. It was about pride, determination and, in a world which often appears harsh and cold, it was about love. Braden's Mother's Day perfection - a 4-0 Oakland win over Tampa Bay - was an emotional triumph for the young man. His mother, Jodie Atwood, died in 2001, from melanoma. Braden, then a teenager in Stockton, California, was taken in by his grandmother, Peggy Lindsey, who provided direction and care for the young man. Yahoo! Sports columnist Jeff Passan offers a touching account. Braden entered the game with an unremarkable 17-23 lifetime record in four seasons with the A's, making the perfecto all the more stunning. Braden worked over the Tampa Bay lineup, which began the game with the best record in the majors, with 109 pitches, 77 of them strikes. He struck out 6, got 7 on ground outs and 10 via fly balls. It was the 19th perfect game in major league history, the rarest feat in baseball, though White Sox hurler, Mark Buerhle, threw one just last season, also against the Rays, and the first for an A's pitcher since Catfish Hunter turned the trick on May 8, 1968. The win kept Oakland a game behind the Rangers in the AL West, while opening the door for the Yankees, who learned of the feat prior to the final game of their 3-game series in Boston. Beating Boston for the third straight day would have propelled the Yankees into first place, but it was Branden's day, as the Yankees dropped a 9-3 decision in Beantown to remain a half game behind Tampa Bay. Braden has a link to Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez. On April 22, Braden called out the slugger after he trotted over the mound, telling him, in effect, to stay off his turf. The feud has simmered ever since, with Rodriguez recently relating the incident as Braden's 15 minutes of fame. On Sunday, Mother's Day, Braden got some extra time under the spotlight. National League Down the coast in LA, Clayton Kershaw wasn't perfect, but he was good enough to even his record at 2-2 with an 8-inning, 2 hit shutout performance against the Rockies. Kershaw retired 9 batters on strikes, the first of which got him out of a bases-loaded jam in the 1st inning, when the Rockies threatened on a walk, a bunt single and another base on balls before Kershaw got Ian Stewart staring at a called third strike. Stewart got back by singling in the 4th inning, but didn't advance past first base. After issuing a walk in the 5th to Eric Young, Kershaw picked the runner off, then proceeded to set down the Rockies in order in the 6th, 7th and 8th. Jonathan Broxton allowed a pair of singles in the 9th, earning his 3rd save in the 2-0 Dodger win. Coupled with Arizona's 6-1 loss to Milwaukee, the Dodgers managed to escape last place in the NL West. They are 1/2 game ahead of the D-Backs, losers of 3 straight. QUICK HITS: Speaking of last place, that's where one would usually go looking for the Kansas City Royals, who lost their 5th straight Sunday, on the wrong end of a 6-4 score against the Rangers. Texas swept their 4-game home series with the Royals, who head home to face Cleveland on Tuesday. The Indians are 1 1/2 games ahead of KC.

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