Free passes to Trout, Pujols set up bases-loaded situation before Angels' walk-off
By David Adler
ANAHEIM -- David Murphy saw the intentional walks to Mike Trout and Albert Pujols coming. Sitting next to C.J. Cron in the dugout, three batters before his 11th-inning walk-off single gave the Angels a 5-4 win over the Orioles on Sunday, Murphy watched the O's go to left-hander Brian Matusz out of the bullpen to face Kole Calhoun, and he predicted exactly what would happen next.
"I saw them bring him in, and realized they only had one righty left in the 'pen and that he wasn't warming up," Murphy said. "And I turned to C.J. and said, 'If he gets Kole out here, are they gonna walk both of those guys to get to me?' And sure enough, they did it."
The bottom of the 11th inning started with a leadoff double by Carlos Perez. Johnny Giavotella couldn't get a bunt down to move Perez to third, bunting on his own with two strikes and fouling it off for a strikeout. That's when Baltimore signaled for Matusz.
Matusz struck out Calhoun for the second out. With first base open, he intentionally walked Trout, an obvious call. Then the Orioles made a much less obvious one -- they walked Pujols, too, loading the bases.
"I don't think that's ever happened [to me] before," Murphy said. "The game of baseball, crazy things happen."
Murphy only remembered experiencing one similarly strange situation: On Aug. 4, 2010, Murphy and the Rangers were playing the Mariners. With Doug Fister on the mound -- a right-handed pitcher -- Seattle intentionally walked Nelson Cruz -- a right-handed hitter -- to get to Murphy.
Murphy followed with a three-run homer.
On Sunday, he could have come through any number of ways. The back-to-back intentional walks put the winning run 90 feet from home plate, where Perez could score on a wild pitch or infield hit. And it forced Matusz to throw strikes, since a walk would have ended the game.
"Right there you're looking for one out, wherever it might be," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, supporting the decision. "You have confidence your pitcher will throw strikes. The move made sense."
The walks set up a lefty-lefty matchup, which Baltimore wanted despite Murphy's three-run blast earlier in the game. What the O's didn't want was the best player in the game today or the best player of the last 15 years beating them.
Instead, Murphy did.
"I think that adds a little fuel to the fire right there," Murphy said. "Your competitive nature comes out and you really want to come through in that situation."
Matusz quickly fell behind Murphy, 3-1. Murphy, naturally, got a take sign, and Matusz grooved a fastball down the middle for strike two. In a full count, Murphy got a 91-mph fastball out over the plate from Matusz, and he drove it deep over the head of David Lough in left field, ending the game.
"He's got guts if he's gonna try to throw an offspeed pitch right there," Murphy said. "If he bounces it or throws it for a ball, he's probably gonna be kicking himself.
"Got a pitch up and middle, and that's a hot zone for me. Praise the Lord, the ball fell."
David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.