Dodgers’ Tyler Anderson loses to Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani with a down in the ninth inning


Dodgers' Tyler Anderson loses to Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani with a down in the ninth inning

LOS ANGELES — Tyler Anderson left a cutter over the plate and knew he’d given up his first shot as soon as he left Shohei Ohtani’s racquet. The resulting line drive went down the right field line at 98.2 mph, with an out in the ninth inning on Wednesday. Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts dived in full overtime but to no avail. Ohtani had hit a triple, and Anderson’s impressive – somewhat unlikely – no-hit bid was down after a career-high 123 pitches.

“A nice touch,” Anderson said after the Dodgers’ 4-1 win over Betts’ jump attempt. “But so far away.”

Anderson, the 32-year-old left-hander – who signed a one-year $8 million contract soon after the lockout ended – reverted to an old alternate grip that slows the pitch and used it to induce nine of his 13 swings and misses the night. He hit eight batters and allowed five baserunners before Ohtani’s final plate appearance — two on walks, one on a hit by pitch and two on errors, on a near-collision between Betts and Cody Bellinger to start the game, and on Andersons own fault throw in the seventh.

Anderson became the first Dodgers pitcher to lose a no-hitter in the ninth inning or later since Rich Hill, who lost his no-hit bid in the 10th inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 23, 2017.

Hill (seven innings and 89 pitches as of September 10, 2016) and Clayton Kershaw (seven innings and 80 pitches as of April 13) are the only two pitchers in major league history with at least seven innings and a perfect score are eliminated intact. Dave Roberts was the manager on both occasions. Hill suffered from bad blisters and Kershaw made his season debut after a serious injury, but Roberts’ divergent approach to Anderson was nonetheless notable.

“I know I have this reputation as a grim reaper,” Roberts said, “but I’m also a sports fan.”

An inordinate proportion of planned days off prompted Anderson to conquer the mound with an extra rest day and will allow him to make his next start with two extra rest days, a major factor in Robert’s decision to let Anderson continue pitching. SportsNetLA cameras have often caught Anderson massaging the muscles in his left arm between innings, raising concerns he might pitch through pain. But Anderson has chalked that up as a common occurrence for a pitcher with a lengthy injury history who is “overly sensitive” to his body.

He was grateful for the opportunity.

“I can’t say enough about that,” Anderson said. “You may never get the chance to do that again.”

Anderson had already accumulated 99 pitches when he retired midway through the seventh inning, down 10 from his previous career high. Dodger’s pitching coach Mark Prior was transparent, telling him it was unlikely he would be allowed to finish unless he pitched more aggressively. Anderson returned to the hill to do so. He walked the next batter he saw but then went back to 13 pitches three times in a row to finish the eighth and give himself a chance.

When he returned for the ninth time, Dodger Stadium was electrified, and the best part of the Angels’ lineup was due to bats.

“It felt like a really big point in a playoff situation,” Anderson said. “The crowd was really, really into it. In those situations you feel the energy and you don’t get that very often.”

Anderson beat Mike Trout, who was looking at a tall cutter on the first out, but his next pitch was another cutter sailing too low. Ohtani didn’t miss it. His line drive came with an expected batting average of .910 – in other words, a sure hit. It prompted Roberts to finally pour out of the dugout to take the baseball.

“This is your moment,” Roberts recalled after telling him.

Anderson bowed his cap to a standing ovation from 50,812 announced viewers, paving the way for Craig Kimbrel to record the last two outs.

The Dodgers will be without their ace Walker Buehler for most of this regular season as he suffered from flexion strain on Friday. The rest of their rotation is littered with questions related to either health or peripherals or track record. Kershaw and Julio Urias are still perfectly capable and Andrew Heaney is expected back this weekend, but Tony Gonsolin (1.42 ERA in 63 1/3 innings) and Anderson (2.82 ERA in 67 innings) came out of nowhere to basically carry this staff.

The Dodgers signed Anderson as a deep addition, but they really need him now.

Therefore, Roberts’ decision to keep him developed into a tightrope act.

“It’s not easy,” said Roberts. “You just have to consider short-term, long-term and the health of the player. You have to trust the player – to a point of course, knowing he always wants to stay in – and only his eyes. I’m just watching and knowing he’s taking very good care of himself and still holding onto the stuff he’s throwing out there. At that moment, I just didn’t have the feeling that my health was at risk at all.

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