Protocol called for Jered Weaver to sit in the same spot on the bench, all alone with his thoughts, ready to stifle the Minnesota Twins for one more inning and record a no-hitter. Except that Wednesday night, baseball etiquette had to wait.
Nature called first.
"I had to pee so bad," Weaver told MLB Network about his sprint to the restroom following the eighth inning. "Superstition had to go out the window."
Turns out the baseball gods have bladders, too, and they wouldn't dare smite the brilliance Weaver had spent 2½ hours fashioning beforehand. It was plenty easier to record the final three outs without his kidneys feeling like they're going to burst, and that's exactly what the 29-year-old did to polish off the best performance of his career and the second no-hitter in this young baseball season.
The most ill-timed bathroom break since Forrest Gump told President Kennedy he had to pee ended up a humorous addendum to a magical evening for a Los Angeles Angels club devoid of many through its first 25 games. For one night at least, nobody cared that Albert Pujols went homerless again.
Everyone hung on Weaver's 121 pitches, particularly the final 10 in the ninth. Twins shortstop Jamey Carroll hit one as far as Jamey Carroll can, and it went in the scorebook as a flyout to left field. Denard Span worked a strong at-bat until Weaver caught him looking at a front-door two-seam fastball that would have made Greg Maddux proud. And Alexi Casilla sent Torii Hunter back in right field until he secured a tough on-the-run catch and started the celebration.
"Yeah!" screamed Weaver's dad, Dave. "He [expletive] did it!"
Moments earlier, with one out separating his son from history, Dave Weaver did what any dad would: He picked up his plastic cup of beer and took a nice tug. It was like he knew he'd be celebrating and wanted to pregame a little.
The festivities turned emotional from the jump. Water welled in Weaver's eyes soon after he locked down the 10th no-hitter in Angels history, and it expelled itself as he hugged his dad. Dave Weaver raised two major-league sons, Jered and older brother Jeff, and short of Jeff locking down the 2006 World Series for the St. Louis Cardinals, dad couldn't have a prouder moment.
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Jered always was different – a little gawkier than Jeff and without quite the harrumph on his stuff. Of the 112 starting pitchers who qualify this season, Weaver ranks 93rd in average fastball velocity at 88.6 mph. Unlike Justin Verlander, Weaver doesn't gain velocity as the game goes on. He peppered the ninth-inning strike zone with 86- and 87-mph fastballs.
And because he's got such artistic command of the strike zone – his career strikeout-to-walk ratio is 3.23-to-1, and it was 9-to-1 Wednesday – Weaver can get away with what otherwise would seem a junk fastball. His awkward delivery, how he hides the ball with a purpose, the Southern California haircut – it's all part of the package with Weaver. A package that the baseball-worst Twins mustered nothing against
This was the sort of thing the Angels hoped for when they locked Weaver into a five-year, $85 million deal last season. Considering that Weaver's agent, Scott Boras, builds much of his reputation around massive free agent scores, Weaver re-signing before he hit the feeding frenzy – and at a below-market rate – represented a touchstone moment for the Angels.
"This is why I stayed here," Weaver told the crowd. "For you guys."
They feted him appropriately, and off he went into the clubhouse, into the night, into the remainder of a season still ripe with possibilities and a career with potential to be among the best of his generation. No matter how bad the Twins are, Jered Weaver made his first no-hitter look all too easy.
Easy as one, two, pee.
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