Oakland’s Braden tosses perfect game against Rays

May 10, 2010


Oakland, CA  РDallas Braden tossed the second perfect game in the history of the Oakland Athletics, as they took down the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-0, in the rubber match of a three-game series.

Braden (4-2) put on a spectacular pitching performance Sunday afternoon, striking out six batters as the 26-year-old became the first A’s pitcher to record a perfect game since Jim “Catfish” Hunter accomplished the remarkable feat on May 8, 1968 against Minnesota. It was the 19th perfect game in major league history.

Braden’s perfect game was the 14th no-hitter in the history of the franchise and first since Dave Stewart’s feat on June 29, 1990 at Toronto.

“It’s without a doubt a team effort,” Braden said. “You got eight guys out there chasing balls and knocking balls down for me. So this is ours, not just mine, this is ours.”

Braden needed just 109 pitches to complete his memorable day. What made his performance so sensational, was the fact that the Rays came into the game with a road record of 13-2 and MLB-best 22-8 overall record.

Gabe Kapler ran the count to 3-1 in the ninth inning before grounding a ball to shortstop Cliff Pennington, who threw across the diamond for the final out of the Mother’s Day perfect game. After the contest, Braden gave his grandmother a celebratory hug. Braden’s mother died of melanoma when she was 39 and Braden was a senior in high school.

“It’s awesome. It doesn’t happen too often. It’s pretty fun to be a part of,” A’s third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff said.

The lefty became the first pitcher to throw a perfect game since Mark Buehrle tossed one for the Chicago White Sox on July 23, 2009. Ironically, Buehrle’s performance was against the Rays.

“That’s the third perfect game that I’ve been on the wrong side of and the fourth no-hitter,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

A 24th-round pick of Oakland in the 2004 draft, Braden graduated from Stagg High School in Stockton in 2001. He became the second pitcher this season to throw a no-hitter in the majors. Ubaldo Jimenez no-hit the Atlanta Braves on April 17.

There was a total of two no-hitters in 2009, as Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez gave up no hits against the Padres on July 10, 2009.

“It’s pretty special. I don’t really know what to think of it yet,” Braden said. “It’s kind of still very fresh to me.”

Braden received all the support he would need in the second inning. With runners on first and second and two outs, Landon Powell hit an RBI single to left.

The A’s added another run in the third on Kouzmanoff’s base hit that scored Daric Barton. Oakland added two more runs in the fourth on RBI singles from Barton and Ryan Sweeney.

The crowd came to its feet as Braden took the mound for the ninth inning. He got Willy Aybar and Dioner Navarro to line out before getting the final out.

Braden, who threw 77 pitches for strikes, had never pitched a complete game in his career coming into Sunday. In fact, his longest outing prior to Sunday was just 7 1/3 frames against Toronto on April 19, 2009.

James Shields (4-1) lasted six innings for the Rays, allowing four runs — three earned — on 11 hits to suffer his first loss of the year. He also fanned six batters and walked one for Tampa Bay, which lost back-to-back games on the road for the first time this season.

The performance from Braden also culminated a week that included his war of words with Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. During an April 22 game, Rodriguez ran through the mound area to return to first base on a foul ball. Braden, who was pitching that day, was incensed at the move. During a television interview this week, Rodriguez said of Braden that he didn’t want “to extend his extra 15 minutes of fame.”

“I’ve learned in my career it’s always much better to be recognized for some of the great things you do on the field,” Rodriguez said prior to the Yankees taking the field Sunday night against Boston. “Good for him. He threw a perfect game, and even better, he beat the Rays.”

Game Notes

Oakland has won two in a row and four of five…Tampa Bay is 6-2 versus the AL West this year, including a 3-2 mark against Oakland. The A’s, though, won six of 10 meetings with the Rays last season.

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