LOS ANGELES — This time, Tyler Anderson got the go-ahead from Dave Roberts.
He couldn’t quite finish.
Although Roberts has notably removed pitchers with no-hitters four other times, Anderson was allowed to go well beyond his previous career-high pitch count in search of history, but the Dodgers left-hander finally gave up a one-out triple to Shohei Ohtani in the ninth inning of the Dodgers’ 4-1 victory over the Angels on Wednesday night.
The hit came on Anderson’s 123rd pitch – 14 more than his previous career high. It was his last one, as Roberts came to get him, allowing the pitcher to walk off the mound to the appreciative standing ovation of 50,812 at Dodger Stadium.
Anderson said was grateful to his manager for giving him the opportunity.
“You can’t say enough about that,” Anderson said. “You may never have a chance to do that again, you know? In however many years of pitching, throwing eight no-hit (innings) is, I’ve taken it through six, seven before. Getting through eight, you want to give it a chance. We’ve got some off-days coming up so you want a chance to at least try.”
Roberts explained that each of the previous situations when he removed a pitcher after at least six hitless innings was because of a specific reason, more than simply a blind adherence to a pitch count, and in this case, he felt the scenario worked for him to let Anderson try.
“I know I’ve got this reputation as a grim reaper, but I’m a sports fan too,” Roberts said. “I wanted that just as much as Tyler and his teammates wanted it tonight.”
Anderson ended up allowing a run, as Matt Duffy then drove in Ohtani, which snapped the Angels’ 25-inning scoreless streak.
Although the Dodgers picked up the victory, completing the two-game sweep of the Freeway Series, they came up just short of history.
Roberts gave them a chance, something he notably had not done on four other occasions. He had pulled Rich Hill, Ross Stripling, Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw, ending their no-hit bids. He did it most recently in April, when Kershaw was pulled after seven perfect innings and 80 pitches in Minnesota. It was Kershaw’s first outing after the lockout-shortened spring training.
“Each of those situations there was a reason,” Roberts said. “Whether it’s a guy that’s never done it, coming off surgery, or a guy that’s got a finger that’s bleeding every throw he makes. This situation … it was short the start before. (Anderson threw 81 pitches in three innings). He’s got two extra days. It was stress-free. I just felt that he earned that opportunity.”
Anderson had never thrown more than 109 pitches, but he started the eighth inning with 99 pitches, with right-hander Evan Phillips warming in the bullpen. Although Anderson issued a leadoff walk to Kurt Suzuki, he got through the inning, finishing with a strikeout of Taylor Ward on his 117th pitch.
Roberts then decided that Anderson was not coming out until he gave up a hit.
“Once he got through there, at a certain point he knew he had to come out and throw strikes, not walk guys,” Roberts said. “They were either going to get a hit or it was going to end pretty quickly. How we got there, there wasn’t much cost. I know his teammates wanted it. I know the fans wanted it. When I look objectively at the short, the long-term, it made sense.”
In the ninth, Anderson struck out three-time American League MVP Mike Trout on his 122nd pitch as the crowd roared.
His first pitch to Ohtani was a cutter over the middle of the plate, and the reigning AL MVP yanked it down the right field line. Mookie Betts dove for it but came up a few feet short.
“Off the bat you know it’s a hit, but you love the effort from Mookie,” Anderson said. “You can’t ask for anything more than that. He’s a great defender, a great teammate. He’s the man. I kind of laughed. That he dove for it, like it’s a very nice gesture. But it’s so far away.”
The game was nonetheless a brilliant line on the resume for Anderson, who has blossomed in his first season with the Dodgers after six unspectacular seasons with the Colorado Rockies, San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates and Seattle Mariners.
The Angels didn’t really threaten a hit until the ninth.
Ward led off the game by lofting a fly ball into right field and right fielder Betts and center fielder Cody Bellinger collided and the ball popped loose. Ward kept running and was thrown out at second. It was initially ruled a hit, but official scorer Dennis D’Agostino quickly changed it to an error on Bellinger.
Anderson then walked Trout, before striking out Ohtani and Duffy to retire the side.
The Angels went down meekly until the seventh inning, when Jared Walsh hit a little roller up the first base line. Anderson fielded it and then spiked his throw into the ground, bouncing it past first baseman Freddie Freeman.
D’Agostino immediately called it an error on Anderson.
Anderson’s performance became the story on a night that it looked like the game would be about the Dodgers’ offensive awakening and Angels left-hander Reid Detmers’ relapse.
The Dodgers came into the game hitting .215 with a .636 OPS in their previous seven games, including two shutouts. But they took advantage of Detmers quickly in the first inning.
The rookie – who has not been the same since his no-hitter in May – walked Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner. He then hung a changeup that Will Smith belted over the left-field fence.
Detmers then gave two more singles before Chris Taylor threatened to hit the second three-run homer of the inning.
Trout leaped at the fence and snagged the ball, ending the inning.
Detmers gave up only one more run and he lasted another eight outs, which certainly is some reason for encouragement. In his previous two starts, he had not allowed any runs, but he had not been able to pitch even five innings in either game. This was the fourth time in five starts since his no-hitter that he failed to make it through the fifth.
Coincidentally, Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said Detmers needed to only look at the pitcher who shared the mound with him for a template of how he should pitch.
“Det has a lot of the same pitches and looks,” Nevin said. “Det actually has a better breaking ball. If you look across the field and watch how Anderson went through us, you know it’s probably a good learning experience for Det.”
Detmers shrugged and conceded that he needs to be better than that nightmarish first inning, or even much of the 4.25 ERA he’s posted this season. Even beyond the no-hitter, he has looked good at times. But other games have been like this one.
“It was just one of those nights I didn’t have a good feel for much,” Detmers said. “This was just one of those moments. It’s going to happen. It’s happened more often than I’d like the past couple of weeks, but I’ve just got to get over it.”
He will continue to do so in the big leagues. Nevin said definitively that Detmers will stay in the rotation.
“He’s a major league pitcher,” Nevin said. “He’s got major league stuff. … This guy’s got a no-hitter under his belt in the big leagues. Those are hard to get. You saw what happened tonight.”
Staff writer J.P. Hoornstra contributed to this story.