ANAHEIM, CALIF. (AP) - Dave Weaver was in his usual seat, 20 rows behind home plate, drinking a beer and shouting instructions to his son in the quiet lulls between pitches. His wife, Gail, was alongside him, calmly enjoying a little night baseball.
It really could have been any night in three lives filled with similar evenings at ballparks all across Southern California.
The Los Angeles Angels ace threw his first no-hitter in dazzling style, allowing just two baserunners while beating the Minnesota Twins 9-0 with a merciless array of pitches first taught to him by his father. After Weaver celebrated with his teammates, his parents and wife joined him on the field, gathering for a tear-soaked group hug he’ll remember as vibrantly as his near-perfection.
“It was an unbelievable experience to be able to have them come down on the field and share some tears,” Weaver said. “It’s special for my dad to be here. It’s been a long road, and he’s been here all the way.”
Dave Weaver raised two major league pitchers on the other end of the Los Angeles metroplex, passing his love for baseball to Jeff and Jered through years of coaching and support. He attends nearly every home game Jered pitches, and only Jeff’s World Series victory was more memorable than Jered’s overpowering no-hitter.
“It’s just a dream come true for him,” Dave Weaver said. “He was so excited and jubilant. He’s been close so many times, but to get this win at this point in their season is tremendous.”
Indeed, a 7-15 start and newcomer Albert Pujols’ homerless April had slowed the Angels’ momentum in a season of high expectations. But on the same day the Dodgers introduced their new ownership group, Weaver shoved them off Los Angeles’ front pages with his first no-hitter _ the Angels’ 10th, and their second in less than a year _ to finish up a three-game sweep of Minnesota.
“Guys were picking me up left and right,” Weaver said. “We scored some runs early and took a little pressure off me. I was able to throw some strikes, and (catcher Chris) Iannetta was throwing down the right fingers. Gotta love that.”
Weaver is off to a 4-0 start this season, and his no-hitter lowered his ERA from 2.02 to 1.61. He struck out nine Twins, giving him a major league-leading 45 in just six starts.
He has a spot on the short list of the majors’ best pitchers _ and his no-hitter only underlined it.
Weaver mowed down 20 of Minnesota’s first 21 batters, but had no perfect-game pressure after Iannetta allowed a passed ball on a strikeout of Chris Parmelee in the second inning. Weaver walked Josh Willingham on a full-count pitch with two outs in the seventh, but he didn’t make another mistake, aside from a narrowly foul liner by Trevor Plouffe in the eighth.
When Alexi Casilla’s final fly settled in Torii Hunter’s glove at the right-field warning track, Weaver raised his hands to his head in disbelief while Iannetta started the celebration of a pitcher who passed on free-agent riches last season for a long-term deal to stay with his only major league organization.
“To have it happen at home, where I decided to stay, and have these fans cheer me on, to go out there in the ninth was pretty electric,” Weaver said.
Weaver is California to the core, and not just because he fits the stereotypes. With his scruffy facial hair and those unkempt blond locks rolling down his neck, the 6-foot-7 right-hander easily could be an overgrown skateboarder in bohemian Venice or the gnarliest surfer in Huntington Beach.