Oakland 4, Tampa Bay 0 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
A's Current Record: 17-15
Everything you need to know about Dallas Braden's perfect game can be found in Joe Posnanski's post about it and from the list of links Adam posted below. On a normal day the recaps you'll find here add game analysis that you won't find in most other game stories. But today, I'm not sure what analysis I can add. As Braden himself told Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse after the game, "There's nothing you can say, it's perfect." The only thing I can do is marvel at Braden's performance and personality and describe how I felt watching it.
I think I'm obsessed with no-hitters. If a team is hitless through two innings I find myself on alert. Despite, or perhaps because of my vigilance, I've never seen a no-hitter in person or on TV. I've probably been to about 200 major league games in my life and I don't even remember a time when a pitcher got particularly close. I only remember seeing a near no-hitter on TV once before, and only remember hearing one near no-hitter, this game, on the radio.
I have no idea how any of the players, especially Braden, kept focused on the game. I was getting nervous in the fifth inning. Braden's break-neck pace saved me from extra stress. Once the A's scored their four runs, they couldn't get out fast enough for me. And, ror the last hour of the game, I had to tell myself over and over that my actions couldn't effect the game. I was afraid that any movement at all would jinx it. I was hungry, but getting a snack would jinx it. I got a text from a friend mentioning the perfect game...I thought that jinxed it.
Of course nothing I did affected the game, which is good because by the eighth inning I couldn't stay still. With each pitch I was nervously rubbing my shins and holding my breath. Oh, and I absolutely had to get up to go to the bathroom after Upton struck out in the eighth. It's a good thing that Fosse and Kuiper couldn't affect the game either; all attempts to avoid mentioning the perfect game went out the window. Not only did they repeatedly say the words "perfect game," the broadcast team did not go to commercial before the top of the ninth and showed highlights of previous perfect games between Braden's warmup tosses.
My ability to think clearly and accurately interpret what I was watching escaped me in the ninth. I was sure that Aybar's soft liner was going to drop over Barton's head. I initially thought that Navarro's liner was a sure hit - and when I saw Patterson in line to catch it, I was sure that Patterson would drop it. I thought that Braden would walk Kapler when the count reached 3-1. Pennington seemed to tighten up when Kapler hit the groundball to him and I was sure he'd flub the grounder or the throw. Of course, none of my fears were realized and Braden completed the 17th perfect game in modern baseball history.
The headline for this post jokingly implies that Braden will throw another perfect game. The idea of him throwing a second perfect game is, of course, absurd. But Braden's path to the major leagues is a little absurd as well. After graduating high school he had to walk on to the team at his junior college - and when he showed up to try out, the coach had never heard of him. When he did make the pros, his lack of velocity made him a fringe prospect, even if he put up impressive numbers in the minor leagues. A lot of players with Braden's "me against the world" attitude can be annoying, but reading about his background makes it tolerable, if not endearing. And frankly, it's worked for him and is probably the main reason why he's pitching in the major leagues. So yes, Braden pitching a second perfect game is virtually unthinkable, but right now I wouldn't put anything past him.