Perfection! Dallas Braden Pitches a Mother's Day Masterpiece

Evan BruschiniCorrespondent IMay 9, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 09:  Dallas Braden #51 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during an MLB game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 9, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Dallas Braden puts his pants on just like you and I do. But afterwards, he challenges the most feared hitter in the American League to a fistfight, and a few weeks later, throws a perfect game against the best team in baseball.

That's what happened today against the Tampa Bay Rays, as Oakland's 26-year-old lefty needed only 109 pitches, 77 of which were strikes, to retire each of the 27 Rays' batters he faced.

It was the 19th perfect game in baseball history, and the second in as many years. It was the second straight perfect game thrown against Tampa Bay, after Mark Buehrle perfected the Rays' lineup last July.

Braden had been at the center of a lot of controversy lately, after his averse reaction to Alex Rodriguez strolling across his pitcher's mound. After the game, he told the Yankees slugger to "go do laps in the bullpen."

Rodriguez's idea of a witty response was to question Braden's career record. Dallas retorted that next time they could "settle it with knuckles." Rodriguez chose not to reply, saying that he didn't want to extend Braden's "extra 15 minutes of fame."

Thanks to Braden's masterful performance, he didn't need to.

Rodriguez may be one of our generation's premier sluggers, but only Sunday night, he had some explaining to do.

"I've learned in my career that it's always better to be remembered for some of the good things you do on the field, and good for him," said the apologetic A-Rod. "He threw a perfect game. And, even better, he beat the Rays."

Whether or not Rodriguez believes beating the Rays, which nine pitchers have done this year, or throwing a perfect game, which 19 pitchers have done ever, remains to be seen. However, it was Braden's grandmother, Peggy Lindsey, who got the last word.

"Let's forget it, uh huh -- and stick it, A-Rod," joked Lindsey, who attended the Mother's Day masterpiece in person.

The fact that his grandmother was in the stands, and that the game took place on Mother's Day had a special meaning for Braden. His mother passed away from skin cancer when he was a a senior in high school, and his grandmother helped raise him.

"It hasn't been a joyous day for me in a while," Braden said. "With my grandma in the stands, it makes it a lot better." The two, clearly overwhelmed, shared a long and tearful hug in front of the dugout.

Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett, who had clearly left his classier self in New York, reportedly retorted, "Grandma, don't cross my mound."

It was the sixth no-hitter in Oakland history, and the first since Dave Stewart kept the Blue Jays hit-less in 1990. It was also the second perfect game in Oakland history, after Catfish Hunter tossed one against the Minnesota Twins in 1968.

Last Mother's Day, Braden was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Toronto's Vernon Wells.

"You know, a year later you don't expect anything like this," he said. "I'm just happy to be putting on the costume a year later."

For a pitcher who seemed to be one of the most hated figures in New York a week ago, this was a Mother's Day to remember.