Thinking on fly helped Iannetta end no-hitter

Thinking on fly helped Iannetta end no-hitter

DETROIT -- With one out in the top of the sixth inning of the Angels' 5-0 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday night, Chris Iannetta reached full desperation mode. The Angels' catcher had just popped up another hittable fastball, dropping his batting average to .184 and making an out for the 48th time in his last 54 at-bats. Iannetta walked back into the dugout and told Paul Sorrento, one of the team's assistant hitting coaches, "All right, man, I've got nothing."

So Sorrento scurried back to the tunnel to review tape of Iannetta's productive 2011 season with the Rockies, noticed how tall his bat stood and how closed his stance was and told him he should do that.

"Do you want to do it in the middle of the game?" Sorrento asked.

"What's the worst that can happen?" Iannetta responded. "I get an out?"

Iannetta did something a whole lot more meaningful -- he broke up a no-hitter.

The next time he came to the plate, it was the ninth inning. Justin Verlander was three outs away from becoming the sixth pitcher to record three no-hitters and was seemingly only getting stronger as the night wore on. Iannetta tracked a 2-2, 97-mph fastball and smoked it down the left-field line, picking up chalk and providing the only highlight in the Angels' loss.

Said Verlander: "It was the only ball all night that I threw over the heart of the plate."

And it produced a double from the Angels' worst hitter this month.

"It's good to get a hit," Iannetta said, plainly, when asked about breaking up a no-hitter in progress. "I'm just glad to find the barrel."

Verlander's one-hitter -- the second of his career -- handed the Angels their 22nd loss in their last 32 games, dropping them six games back of the Astros in the American League West and one game behind the Twins for the second AL Wild Card spot. They sport the worst offense in the Major Leagues in August -- according to OPS and runs per game, at least -- and they're no longer getting the quality starting pitching that carried them through the first three months.

At least they didn't get no-hit.

"You never want to get no-hit, but we lost the game," center fielder Mike Trout said.

"A no-hitter is a no-hitter," Albert Pujols added. "Verlander threw the ball pretty well tonight. He deserved it. Your goal is to have good, quality at-bats, and we didn't do enough to make him uncomfortable."

Iannetta has spent the entire year uncomfortable, especially navigating through April with a .093 batting average. He hit well in May, June and July, but then he went on an 0-for-18 slump early in August and lost his starting job. A handful of days ago, the 32-year-old experimented with a simplified approach that consisted of resting the bat on his shoulder. But he was still stepping out, his front shoulder was still flaring open, and he was still producing those shallow popups to the right side that had plagued his entire season.

The last one especially irked him.

So, from one at-bat to the next, Iannetta incorporated the kind of adjustment that is usually made between games, sometimes even between seasons.

"Hey," he said, "I didn't have anything to lose."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.