Angels' Weaver almost throws second no-hitter vs. Twins

Joe Haakenson, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It wasn't a no-hitter, but it wasn't far off.
Jered Weaver gave up two hits over eight shutout innings to lead the Los Angeles Angels to a 1-0 win over the Minnesota Twins Wednesday afternoon at Angels Stadium.
Weaver thoroughly baffled the Twins hitters all afternoon by effectively mixing up his pitches, not unlike how he pitched the last time he faced the Twins in Anaheim. On May 2 of last year, Weaver threw a no-hitter against the Twins.
This one wasn't much different. In both last year's game and Wednesday's, Weaver struck out nine and walked one. The only hits he allowed were Doug Bernier's one-out single in the first inning and Aaron Hicks' two-out single in the eighth. Between Bernier's single and a walk to Ryan Doumit with two outs in the seventh, Weaver retired 19 batters in a row.
But while last year's no-hitter was an easy, 9-0 victory for the Angels, Wednesday's didn't come without some angst. Closer Ernest Frieri, less than 24 hours after giving up five runs in the ninth inning Tuesday, gave up a walk and hit a batter to start the ninth inning.
But Frieri made a heads-up play when Justin Morneau followed and popped up his sacrifice bunt attempt. Frieri let it fall, then started a 1-3-6-4 double play. On the play, Clete Thomas went from second to third. Frieri walked Doumit but struck out Chris Herrmann to end it for his 25th save.
"You never expect that pop up, (but) you've got to be ready for anything," Frieri said of the key play in the ninth. "I was going to catch it, then I heard (shortstop Erick) Aybar screaming 'Drop it, drop it.' OK, and my first reaction was to (throw to) first base."
After Morneau was out at first, Bernier was tagged out in a rundown between first and second.
"Aybar and (third baseman Alberto) Callaspo told me, 'Next time you better go to third and we'll finish the game," Frieri said.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire came out to argue with home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski, saying the infield fly rule should have been called.
"It's a judgment call on an infield fly," Gardenhire acknowledged. "He said the pitcher wasn't camped underneath the ball, Well, there was a reason he wasn't camped underneath it, because he was going to let it fall. ... It could have been called but it was not the obvious call. And there was mass confusion on the basepaths after that."
The Angels scored their only run of the game on Albert Pujols' RBI single in the first inning off Twins starter Mike Pelfrey. Pelfrey (4-8) gave up one run and five hits in six innings.
And that was enough for Weaver, who finished his outing in the eighth with a called-third strike on Pedro Florimon, drawing some emotion from Weaver as he walked off the mound.
"I was thinking, 'Hell yeah!'" Weaver said. "Every once in a while I show a little emotion out there."
Weaver hasn't allowed a run in his last two starts, covering 14 2/3 innings, but he said he isn't doing anything differently.
"The game plan going into every game is to keep those guys off balance," said Weaver (5-5), who lowered his ERA to 2.98. "My fastball command was good, mixed in the changeup later and the defense helped me through the game.
Any no-hitter drama was thwarted early when Bernier singled with one-out in the first inning, but Weaver settled in from there. Bernier's hit was the only one the Twins had through 7 2/3 innings.
Other than the first inning, Pelfrey matched Weaver through five innings and kept the Twins close.
NOTES: Twins C Joe Mauer was placed on the paternity list after his wife Maddie gave birth to twin girls, Maren and Emily. Mauer arrived at the hospital in Minnesota about 3 a.m. Wednesday, and the twins were born a half-hour later. Mauer is expected to rejoin the team in Seattle in the next couple of days. ... C Drew Butera was recalled from Class AAA Rochester to take Mauer's roster spot. Butera had spent the entire season in Rochester hitting .215 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 25 games. ... Angels DH Albert Pujols has hit 17 home runs, putting him on pace for 28 for the season. He has never hit fewer than 30 in his 12 previous seasons. His 492 career homers rank 28th on the all-time list. His next homer will put him in a three-way tied for 26th with Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff. ... The Angels claimed RHP J.C. Gutierrez off waivers from the Royals and placed him on the 40-man roster. Gutierrez was 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 25 relief appearances this season for the Royals. ... Angels OF Mike Trout's hitting streak ended at 15 games.

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