ANAHEIM — The Angels’ 16-inning loss to the Baltimore Orioles ended with some history in the wee hours of Friday morning.
Stevie Wilkerson, an outfielder, became the first position player to pick up a save since the statistic was created in 1969. He was pressed into duty because the Orioles were out of pitchers.
Throwing 55 mph floaters over the plate, Wilkerson retired the Angels in order in the bottom of the 16th.
“I didn’t think he was serious when he was warming up,” Angels outfielder Brian Goodwin said Friday. “I was just trying to think what I was going to do as he was warming up. I thought it was going to be something different than what he was doing on the mound. I don’t know. I guess it’s just slower than anything you’ve seen in a long time. I haven’t seen anything like that in years.”
Goodwin, who led off the inning with a flyout to center field, explained that Wilkerson was so far from the range of what big leaguers train for that it made for a tough adjustment.
“It’s just one of those things where you practice this swing over and over and over and over, so it’s kind of hard to get out of that for one AB,” Goodwin said. “Kinda like a knuckleballer or something like that. They’re effective if they throw strikes. It’s something you have to make an adjustment to out of the norm. Guys have pitches with different arm angles and stuff like that but you see that more often than you see something like that so it makes it harder to adjust to something like that.”
Wilkerson, a 27-year-old in his second big-league season, has now pitched three times for the Orioles this season. He has allowed one run – on a homer – in four innings.
Goodwin said his timing was so off when he got into the box that he decided to just try to get a walk.
“I had no clue,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do. My best bet was to take until I couldn’t take.”
After a first-pitch ball, Wilkerson threw Goodwin two strikes, so he had to swing. He fouled a ball off before hitting a flyout.
Kole Calhoun grounded out and then Albert Pujols hit a flyout to center.
Noé Ramírez was back in the Angels clubhouse a day after spending most of his day at home sick with what he figured must have been food poisoning.
Ramírez said he woke up about 3:30 a.m. on Thursday feeling sick, and he barely ate the rest of the day. He had gone to sleep around 9:30 p.m. and was awakened by a call from the doctor at 10:30, who was just checking on him. Ramírez then saw what was happening and he stayed up watching the game, which didn’t end until about 1:30 a.m.
Even though he was sick and weak, he said the thought crossed his mind that he should come to the ballpark and make himself available to pitch.
“I swear I thought about it,” Ramírez said Saturday. “Cam (Bedrosian) texted me, ‘I’ll have your uniform ready.’”
Ramírez didn’t come to the ballpark, and instead starter Griffin Canning was the last resort to pitch the final two innings.
“I already apologized to Griff,” Ramírez said.
The 16-inning game forced the Angels to make a tough roster decision. Needing a fresh pitcher for Friday, they designated Adalberto Mejia for assignment to clear a roster spot for Nick Tropeano. Mejia had pitched three days in a row, including three innings on Thursday night.
“Quite frankly, it sucks,” Manager Brad Ausmus said. “The guy pitched outstanding for us for three innings, and we’d much rather have him here. Clearly, we’re in a little bit of dire straits in terms of pitching availability. It’s not something we wanted to do, but unfortunately something we had to do.”
The Angels had seven pitchers with options: starters José Suarez, Félix Peña, Jaime Barría and Canning and relievers Ty Buttrey, Justin Anderson and Taylor Cole. They were all deemed more valuable to keep, especially because an optioned player can’t return for at least 10 days.
Cole had been optioned a few times earlier in the year, but Ausmus said he’s now risen on the depth chart to a point where he’s too valuable to move up and down. Cole has allowed one run in his last 15-2/3 innings.
Canning, who had been scheduled to start on Friday night, will now start on Tuesday night, followed by Suarez on Wednesday.
The Angels will need to piece together a bullpen game on Saturday.
Jonathan Lucroy’s rehab assignment was pushed back a day, so he’ll play on Saturday for Class-A Inland Empire. Lucroy could be activated early next week. Lucroy has been out with a concussion and broken nose after a home plate collision on July 7.
Angels (TBA) vs. Orioles (RHP Aaron Brooks, 0-1, 6.00), Saturday, 6:07 p.m., Fox Sports West, 830 AM