Masterpiece theater: Weaver throws first no-hitter
Masterpiece theater: Weaver throws first no-hitter
By Alden Gonzalez
ANAHEIM -- Jered Weaver walked back to the dugout just three outs shy of history. The Angels' ace had completed eight innings of no-hit, one-walk ball, had 111 pitches under his belt, sported a nine-run lead and was getting ready to face the Nos. 9, 1 and 2 hitters in the Twins' batting order.
But something else was on his mind.
"I had to relieve myself," Weaver said of breaking a routine that usually has him stationed next to the water cooler in between innings. "So I decided to go to the bathroom and do that. I'm glad it worked out for me."
Did it ever.
Weaver came back from the men's room, jogged back to the mound, recorded three more outs and rightfully put his name in the history books on Wednesday night, twirling his first career no-hitter in a 9-0 victory that gave his Angels the sweep and their first three-game winning streak of the year.
It was less than a week ago that newcomer C.J. Wilson told Weaver it was time for him to get a no-hitter, to which the tall right-hander replied: "No chance."
"It's funny," Weaver was saying now. "A week later, it happens."
This was the ninth individual no-hitter (and 10th overall) in Angels history -- Nolan Ryan had four of them -- the first at home since a combined one by Mark Langston and Mike Witt in 1990 and the first overall since Ervin Santana got his in Cleveland on July 27 of last year. It was the second no-hitter in the Majors this season (joining the April 21 perfect game of the White Sox' Phil Humber) and the 11th since the start of the 2010 season.
"It still hasn't kicked in," Weaver said, all dressed and showered after getting mobbed by teammates on the field and getting doused with beer and champagne in the clubhouse.
"It's just so surreal, man, to have my family here, my wife, knowing that my brother was watching. I had some friends in the stands, as well. This is an awesome moment."
No-hitters by Angels pitchers since the club's inception in 1961
May 5, 1962
July 3, 1970
May 15, 1973
July 15, 1973
Sept. 28, 1974
June 1, 1975
Sept. 30, 1984
Apr. 11, 1990
July 27, 2011
May 2, 2012
* Perfect game
Weaver actually came close once before. It was on June 28, 2008, when the Angels didn't allow a hit against the Dodgers but lost the game, 1-0. Weaver threw six no-hit innings and Jose Arredondo two, though that is not considered an official no-hitter.
On Wednesday, Weaver came in having given up just three runs through his last three starts. And prior to a two-out, seventh-inning walk to Josh Willingham, the only baserunner he had allowed came on a strikeout-passed ball by catcher Chris Iannetta.
Against a Twins starting lineup that had five hitters batting under .260, and was shut out on three hits by Jerome Williams the night before, Weaver struck out nine, walked one and started out ahead on 16 of the hitters he faced. The Twins were also no-hit for the last six innings by Williams on Tuesday.
"A terrible night for Twins baseball," manager Ron Gardenhire said after being outscored, 17-3, in the series and falling to 6-18 on the year. "We got dominated by a very good pitcher over there."
"He was just relentless with just repeating pitches," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, whose club moved to 10-15. "He was focused on just making pitches all the way through. Changed speeds well, pitched inside well. It was a terrific game."
Twelve of Weaver's outs were lazy flyouts, five of his outs were weak grounders and really only one -- a Trevor Plouffe ball Torii Hunter made a running catch on in right field in the fifth inning -- was a hard-hit line drive.
That was one of only three close calls on the night, really.
There was also a long, eighth-inning Plouffe foul ball that sailed a few feet wide of the left-field foul pole.
"I didn't look at it," Weaver said of that ball. "I was going to go off the fans' judgment. They cheered, so I figured it went foul."
And there was the last out of the game, when Twins second baseman Alexi Casilla drove a high first-pitch fastball to deep right field, before Hunter ranged back and made the catch close to the warning track.
"I thought it was maybe off the wall or something like that," Casilla said.
Hunter, who was playing shallow, felt differently.
"When you hit it to me, it's caught," the nine-time Gold Glover said. "That's just the way it goes. When he hit it, I had to go get it. I was going to give it my all -- run myself through the wall, knock myself out, be out 5-10 days, it didn't matter. But he was going to have a no-hitter."
By around the third or fourth inning, Weaver will admit, he was already thinking about that.
But he didn't really feel like he had no-hit stuff, per se.
"I wasn't throwing 97 or 98 up there," said Weaver, who has hurled 17 consecutive scoreless innings and is now 4-0 with a 1.61 ERA on the year. "It was pretty much the same poo-poo I've been throwing there all year. A lot of things have to go your way, and it happened tonight."
So did the kind of offensive surge the Angels had been searching for all year.
With one out in the third inning, Twins starter Liam Hendriks was already out of the game -- the shortest an opposing starter has lasted this season. And by the end of the fourth, the Angels had already tied their season high in runs (nine) and hits (13).
Howie Kendrick (four hits and three RBIs) and Kendrys Morales (a triple short of the cycle) each homered, Erick Aybar knocked in his second run since April 9, Peter Bourjos had his first RBI since April 17 and the Angels topped four runs and got double-digit hits for the first time since April 21.
Weaver didn't need that much, though.
After issuing that seventh-inning walk, he got Ryan Doumit to fly out to center field to end the inning, then walked into the dugout to a standing ovation, 98 pitches under his belt and six outs to go.
In the eighth, he got three lazy flyouts.
In the ninth, he got Jamey Carroll to fly out to left field and -- with a crowd of 27,288 beginning to chant Weaver! Weaver! Weaver! -- struck out Denard Span looking on a 2-2 fastball.
Then, on pitch No. 121, Weaver got Casilla to fly out, put both hands on top of his head, was embraced by his new catcher Iannetta and pretty soon had a mob of teammates jumping in harmony with him.
The California kid, who took less money last August so he could pitch in his own backyard, had finally done what everyone expected him to do at some point.
"To have it happen at home, where I decided to stay, and to have these fans cheer me on, going out there in the ninth, it was pretty electric," Weaver said. "Unbelievable night."