They were barely halfway through the regular season, and the 1971 A’s were well accustomed to working overtime. They had played in six extra-inning affairs, including two against the Angels on consecutive nights at the end of May (they split the pair as both teams won by the identical score of 7-5), and a 21-inning game at Washington.
The drama had long been taken out of the AL West race with Oakland enjoying an eleven-game lead at the beginning of league play on July 9. Vida Blue, who would go on to capture MVP and Cy Young Awards in 1971, took the hill for the A’s before a crowd just shy of 23,000 at the Coliseum. Blue would pitch 11 shutout innings, allowing seven hits and striking out 17. He did not walk a single batter.
On normal nights, such an effort would be sufficient for a “W”. But California’s Rudy May matched Vida’s zeroes plus one, while giving up just three hits (although he walked six to go with 13 K’s).
The Angels struck out a major-league record 26 times, and the teams combined for 43 whiffs on the night. Both records still stand.
Oakland only had seven hits all game – in 64 at-bats – and only three players accounted for them: Angel Mangual (3), Tommy Davis (2), and Dick Green (2).
It was Mangual’s third base hit of the night that drove in Curt Blefary with the game’s first and only run, 5 hours and 5 minutes after the first pitch was thrown by Blue.
One other side note: Rollie Fingers pitched seven innings in relief.