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The Grand Slam: Randy Choate picks up win after throwing one pitch

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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The one unwritten rule of baseball analysis states that you must preface any discussion that may concern pitcher wins by stating with clarity that pitcher wins mean nothing. Hopefully that sentence suffices, but if not, the way St. Louis Cardinals left-hander Randy Choate picked up a victory on Saturday should probably cover it.

In the top of the seventh inning, Choate relieved starter Shelby Miller with the bases loaded and the score tied. To his credit, he did his job, retiring Denard on one pitch. In the bottom of the inning, St. Louis broke through for three runs and ultimately held on for a 4-1 victory, which means Choate gets credit for the win despite throwing only one pitch.

In the top of the seventh inning, Choate relieved starter Shelby Miller with the bases loaded and the score tied. To his credit, he did his job, retiring Denard on one pitch. In the bottom of the inning, St. Louis broke through for three runs and ultimately held on for a 4-1 victory, which means Choate gets credit for the win despite throwing only one pitch.

Again, it was a good pitch. Choate did what he needed to do. But it was one pitch in a game that featured 252 total. Miller himself threw the Cardinals first 101 pitches to get to that point, but Choate wins it with one. The rule will never change, but we can always adjust how we look at it.

As for the feat itself, it's rare, but probably not as uncommon as you'd think. For example, between 2006-08, it happened 29 times. This is the 19th occurrence since then. Sergio Romo of the San Francisco Giants is the most recent on April 22 of last season.

ANGELS SURVIVE WILD ONE IN ATLANTA: A four-run ninth inning lead was not enough for the Los Angeles Angels. With closer Ernesto Frieri on the hill in a non-save situation, the Atlanta Braves rallied to even the score before an out was recorded, and then squandered an opportunity to win it by stranding Freddie Freeman at third base.

That left the door open for Los Angeles to recover, and after trading single runs in the tenth, the Angels finally broke out for the five in the 13th to win it 11-6

The hero of the moment was outfielder Kole Calhoun, who in the ninth misplayed a fly ball allowing two runs to score, but turned around to save the game with a diving catch in the tenth. He singled home the go-ahead run in the 13th, and then Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, who hit back-to-back homers in the sixth, finished it off with consecutive two RBI hits.

J-ROLL STANDS ALONE: An official changing of the guard took place at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday afternoon as Jimmy Rollins passed Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt to become the Philadelphia Phillies all-time hits leader. Rollins singled in the 5th inning off Chicago Cubs right-hander Edwin Jackson to give him 2,235 hits for his career, which like Schmidt's has been spent entirely with Philadelphia.

In a cool moment, the game was temporarily delayed so the fans at Citizens Bank Park could acknowledge Rollins’ accomplishment. Then Mike Schmidt himself jogged out with Rollins' Phillies' teammates to congratulate him. A feel-good moment for a player who's days in Philly haven't always been smooth, but the love and respect was undoubtedly flowing on Saturday.

As was Philly's offense. Two batters after Rollins' singled, Marlon Byrd singled as well. Then Dominic Brown provided the difference in the Phillies 7-4 win with a three-run homer.

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(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

The celebration then continued in the clubhouse, and it was Schmidt again who cemented Rollins' big moment.

''He's very comfortable in his own skin,'' Schmidt said. ''He's got a nice, short stride and stays relaxed (at the plate). He's a great clutch hitter, tremendous . much better than me. One of the great compliments you can pay a hitter is (to) say I want him up when the game is on the line.''

BREW CREW CLEANS UP: The Milwaukee Brewers are still hanging tight atop of the NL Central. Thanks to their 4-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, they'll maintain a 4 1/2 game lead over the Cardinals at the midway point in June. Ryan Braun, who entered Saturday's game mired in a 7-for-43 slide, hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning off of J.J. Hoover, and that ended up being the difference.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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