TEMPE, Ariz. — Scott Van Slyke’s grand slam in the sixth inning and an exciting play at home plate in the first highlighted the Dodgers’ 4-4 tie with the Angels before 6,457 at Tempe Diablo Stadium. The 10-inning game is the second tie this week for the Dodgers (3-4-2).
The umpiring crew used instant replay to determine that Mike Trout was indeed thrown out at home plate attempting to complete an inside-the-park home run. Angels manager Mike Scioscia had a lengthy discussion with the umpires on the field before initiating the challenge. A 72-second review confirmed the call.
With one out in the first, Trout hit a long, sinking line drive just left of center field. Yasiel Puig dove at the last second but missed. The ball rolled past Puig and all the way to the warning track, where Puig got to the ball ahead of left fielder Scott Van Slyke. His relay throw to shortstop Hanley Ramirez on the short outfield grass was perfect, and Ramirez made an accurate throw to Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis just in time to retire the speedy Trout.
The only question seemed to be whether Ellis got his glove on Trout or not, but that wasn’t the only question circulating through the Dodgers’ dugout.
“We didn’t know what was being challenged, whether it was the blocking of home plate or safe or out,” Dodgers starter Dan Haren said. “People were kind of confused. I think that Donnie had told me that we’re going to have a meeting to iron out some things. We’re just as confused as the fans are, really.
“A.J. was on the infield side of home plate and the throw took him to the outside, to foul ground. At first I thought he was challenging the block at the plate, but A.J. was on the inside of home plate. The throw took him to the outside, to the foul ground, so he had to shift. Technically he was blocking home plate but he had to get the ball. So I don’t know if that was being challenged, that he was blocking.”
MLB officials have said that catchers moving across the plate to catch a throw aren’t in violation of the rule. If that’s what Ellis did, Trout still would have been called out.
Thanks to the relay (and the replay), Haren pitched four scoreless innings in his longest spring outing, allowing three hits, no walks and striking out three.
Haren believes he’s close to ready for the Dodgers’ season-opening series in Australia. The former Angels right-hander said he threw curveballs — three of them — for the first time in a game this spring. He’s also trying to spot his cut fastball on the outside of the plate, a pitch that Haren previously only threw in on right-handers.
“I’ve still got some arm speed to build up I think,” he said. “It comes and goes. A lot of time there’s a dead-arm period of spring. A lot of times I feel better one start than I did last start. Velocity comes more toward the end of spring, at least for me. It’s just about getting up and down in innings, trying to build that in case I’ll be needed in Australia.”
For the record, Haren said he hasn’t been told whether or not he will pitch in Sydney against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
C.J. Wilson was even more effective than Haren. The left-hander didn’t allow a hit over four innings, the second time the Dodgers have been no-hit by the opposing starter in as many days. The Dodgers got their first hit in the fifth off Angels closer Ernesto Frieri, a single by Mike Baxter.
The Angels loaded the bases against Javy Guerra with one out in the fifth inning, but did not score. Kole Calhoun grounded into a forceout, with first baseman Adrian Gonzalez throwing home to retire the lead runner. Trout flied out to end the inning.
In the sixth, Angels right-hander Dane De La Rosa loaded the bases by walking Ellis, hitting Hanley Ramirez in the arm with a pitch and allowing a single to Adrian Gonzalez. Ramirez stayed in the game. That set the stage for Van Slyke’s grand slam, just his second hit of the Cactus League season. De La Rosa then left with stiffness in his right forearm.
A three-run home run by Angels prospect C.J. Cron off Daniel Moskos tied the game 4-4 in the ninth inning.
Some more notes and observations:
• Dee Gordon stole his fourth base of the spring, which ranks second in all of MLB. Mike Baxter also stole a base and Justin Turner was thrown out by a mile in the fifth inning on what appeared to be a blown hit-and-run play with Baxter at the plate.
• Right-hander Chris Anderson, the Dodgers’ first-round draft pick last year, pitched 1 1/3 innings in his Cactus League debut. He allowed one hit (a single by Ian Stewart), walked two batters and hit John Hester in the hand on his final pitch. Anderson was charged with two of the runs on Cron’s home run.
• Pitcher Carlos Frias allowed one run in his only inning of work, on a Chad Tracy single and a sacrifice fly RBI by John Hester.
• The top of the ninth inning ended when Dodgers prospect Jon Garcia was thrown out at home plate by Angels left fielder J.B. Shuck.
• Prospect Scott Schebler tripled in the 10th inning off Angels right-hander Mike Morin, his first hit in three spring plate appearances.