Angels manager Mike Scioscia had no relievers at his disposal in the 14th inning after exhausting his bullpen, so Dan Haren came to the rescue between starts.
Maicer Izturis made sure his teammate only had to go one inning.
Izturis hit an RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the 14th, Howie Kendrick hit his fourth homer in seven games and Los Angeles capitalized on a baserunner interference call in the 13th to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-5 on Saturday night.
“I don’t know where to start,” Scioscia said after his pitching staff stranded 18 Toronto baserunners in a game that lasted five hours three minutes. “Our guys were pitching up against it all night, and for the most part, they made pitches and managed to get out of some stuff.”
Haren (2-0), scheduled to start Monday night, retired all three batters he faced to get the win. He was the ninth Angels pitcher.
“I think what Dan Haren did speaks volumes for what he’s about. He’s all about the team,” Scioscia said. “The last thing any of us want to do is to have to use a starter in between starts — especially after the way Dan pitched the last time. We were looking at who was a possibility, with Weave (Jered Weaver) pitching tomorrow, and Dan was all for it. But you wouldn’t expect anything different from him after being around him. It’s a special player who takes the ball in that situation.”
The relief appearance was the first by Haren since Oct. 3, 2004, with St. Louis, and ended a string of 203 consecutive starts by the right-hander.
“Butch (pitching coach Mike Butcher) just asked me how I felt and I said I feel fine. So I went down there to warm up,” Haren said. “I just wanted to make sure that if I was going to go, I would get enough time. And they gave me plenty of time. It was weird running in — and the game was crazy enough as it was. But it’s over, it’s done with, and everyone hopes it doesn’t happen again.”
Jon Rauch (0-1) struck out his first two batters in the 14th before Peter Bourjos hit a drive over the outstretched glove of left fielder Travis Snider for a double after Snider fell down. Izturis then lined an 0-2 pitch to right field to score Bourjos.
Jason Bulger, the last reliever left in the Angels’ bullpen, escaped a bases-loaded jam in the 12th by retiring Jose Bautista on a flyball with the bases loaded.
In the 13th, the Blue Jays had two outs and runners at second and third when Edwin Encarnacion hit a slow grounder to the left of third baseman Alberto Callaspo, whose throw to first base pulled Brandon Wood off the bag as Adam Lind crossed the plate. But third base umpire and crew chief Bob Davidson ruled Yunel Escobar out for interference on Callaspo, and manager John Farrell came out for a long argument.
“Bob Davidson’s interpretation of the play was that Callaspo’s direction and timing on the ball was altered by Yunel going into third. I obviously disagreed with his view and judgment,” Farrell said. “I would still argue the same play all over again.”
Angels starter Matt Palmer retired only 12 of his 24 batters through 4 2-3 innings. He was charged with five runs — four earned — and 10 hits after getting recalled from triple-A Salt Lake to fill in for injured Scott Kazmir.
Toronto grabbed a 5-4 lead in the fourth with three straight two-out hits, including a two-run single by Rajai Davis and an RBI single by Aaron Hill. Vernon Wells, who spent his first 12 big league seasons with the Blue Jays before he was traded to the Angels in January, cut off another run moments later when he fielded Bautista’s single to left and made a perfect throw to the plate to get Hill.
The Angels tied it in the bottom half on Bourjos’ sacrifice fly against lefty Brett Cecil, who gave up five runs and 10 hits over five innings.
The Angels, who stranded 55 runners in their first seven games, scored three times in the third to take a 4-2 lead. Izturis had a run-scoring single before Bobby Abreu and Wells came through with two-out RBI singles.
The hit by Wells snapped an 0-for-16 drought for the three-time all-star, who has just two RBIs in 36 at-bats with his new club.
Kendrick, the second batter Cecil faced, drove an 0-2 pitch to left-centre for his 36th homer in 1,964 big league at-bats to that point. He didn’t hit his fourth home run last season until his 51st game, and tied a career high with 10.
Kendrick finished 2010 with the second-most hits and RBIs among AL second basemen behind the Yankees’ Robinson Cano.
“He’s squared some balls up,” Scioscia said. “He has surprising power, but he’s a strong guy. I think he’s just into a streak right now. I mean, he’s not going to be a 30-homer guy, but he certainly has the ability to hit 15-or-20. And he’s off to a good start.”