The last time Dallas Braden made headlines was for a perplexing run-in with Alex Rodriguez – the game’s highest-paid and highest-profile athlete.
This time, he dominates the headlines all on his own.
For just the 19th time in Major League history, and just the second time in Oakland Athletics history, Braden tossed a perfect game on Sunday, besting the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-0, at the Oakland Coliseum.
“Pretty cool,” Braden said. “I don’t know what to think about it just yet. There’s definitely a select group. I’d like to have a career more than today.”
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Although not an upset in MLB Sportsbooks, the win itself was a relative surprise after Tampa Bay came in with only two road losses on the year – one of them coming the day before.
Braden’s biggest previous highlight had been for his squabble with Rodriguez. He told the Yankees’ third baseman to “go do laps in the bullpen” if he wanted to run all over a pitcher’s mound.
Rodriguez didn’t talk much about the incident afterwards, saying he didn’t want to extend Braden’s “15 minutes of fame.”
“I’ve learned in my career that it’s always better to be remembered for some of the good things you do on the field, and good for him,” Rodriguez said after learning about the game. “He threw a perfect game. And, even better, he beat the Rays.”
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It was the second year in a row the Rays have been victims of a perfect game. Lefty Mark Buehrle did it last season for the Chicago White Sox.
“I’m a bad omen. That’s the third perfect game and fourth no-hitter I’ve been on the wrong side of,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon joked to the Associated Press “When Kenny Rogers threw his I was the bullpen coach. If you want to see another one, just follow me around.”
Braden paid tribute to his passed mother, who died of skin cancer when he was a high school senior. His grandmother, who took over raising him, was in the stands and embraced him on the field after the postgame celebration.
“It hasn’t been a joyous day for me in a while,” Braden said. “With my grandma in the stands, it makes it a lot better.”
Braden struck out six, and had to survive a couple scares in the late-innings to complete the effort. Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff snagged a long foul ball that almost landed safely in the dugout.
“I told him he needs to quit stealing my thunder,” Braden joked. “He makes ridiculous plays.”
In the ninth inning, Willy Aybar and Dioner Navarro both hit liners straight at a fielder. And on Braden’s last batter, Gabe Kapler, who had battled for a 12-pitch at-bat the last time up, worked a 3-1 count before grounding out to end it.
Catcher Landon Powell and Ryan Sweeney both had RBI singles added to two unearned runs Oakland scored in the in the fourth inning.
First baseman Daric Barton led the team with two runs on a 3-for-5 performance at the plate.