CLEVELAND — Ervin Santana pitched the first solo no-hitter for the Angels in nearly 27 years, getting some long overdue revenge against the Cleveland Indians and leading Los Angeles to a 3-1 win Wednesday.
Santana struck out and 10 and allowed only two runners — there was an error on the leadoff batter in the first inning and a walk in the eighth. Just once was Santana’s gem in jeopardy and second baseman Howie Kendrick’s nifty play saved it in the sixth.
This was the third no-hitter in the major leagues this season, yet another sign that this, too, is another Year of the Pitcher. Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano did it against the Chicago White Sox on May 3 and Detroit ace Justin Verlander beat Toronto on May 7.
Plus, this was the first no-hitter at Progressive Field, a ballpark that opened as Jacobs Field in 1994. And it marked quite a bit of role reversal for Santana.
Santana made his big league debut on this very same field on May 17, 2005, and the Indians gave him a rude welcome. The first four batters he faced in the majors teamed up to hit for the cycle — Grady Sizemore led off with a triple, Coco Crisp doubled, Travis Hafner singled and Ben Broussard then homered.
Santana hadn’t done much better against the Indians since then. The 28-year-old righty came into this outing 0-6 with a 4.98 ERA in 10 career starts versus them.
“I never get a win against this team,” he said.
But Santana (6-8) was in complete control while throwing the Angels’ first complete-game no-hitter since Mike Witt pitched a perfect game on Sept. 30, 1984, against Texas. Mark Langston (7 innings) and Witt (2 innings) combined to hold Seattle hitless on April 11, 1990.
Santana said he began to think a no-hitter was within reach after he got through the eighth.
“Lots of guys get to five, six innings, but that’s when things get a little complicated,” Santana said.
He would know. Because in his last start, he took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning against Baltimore.
Overall, it was the ninth no-hitter in Angels’ history. Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan threw four of them from 1973 through 1975. The last pitcher to hold the Indians hitless was Jim Abbott of the New York Yankees on Sept. 4, 1993.
The closest Cleveland got to a hit came when rookie Jason Kipnis led off the sixth with a grounder past Santana. Kendrick made a diving, backhand stop, threw from his knees and first baseman Mark Trumbo scooped out the low throw for the out.
Santana threw 105 pitches, 76 for strikes. He had 0-2 counts nine times.
The crowd of 21,546, many on extended lunch hours for the noontime start, cheered loudly when Lonnie Chisenhall walked with one out in the eighth. Otherwise, the fans nervously sat in expectation of watching history.
Santana quickly took care of business in the bottom of the ninth. He got pinch-hitter Travis Buck to look at strike three, retired the speedy Ezequiel Carrera on a routine grounder and got Michael Brantley on an easy fly ball to center fielder Peter Bourjos.
The Angels rushed from the dugout to mob Santana behind the mound. Along with a game for the record books, it was an important win for Los Angeles as it chases Texas in the AL West.
The win was only his third in 11 starts since May 30. He lost four in a row, June 4-21, but is 3-0 in six starts since. Last Friday, he gave up one run and three hits over 7 2-3 innings in a 6-1 win over the Orioles.
Against the Indians, Santana looked a lot more like the pitcher who went 17-10 last season.
Santana got off to an ominous start as Carrera reached when his grounder glanced off the heel of shortstop Erick Aybar’s glove. Carrera stole second, went to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.
Chisenhall’s walk was the lone blemish in the eighth as Santana struck out three in the inning. in the eighth — when he struck out the side.
Neither team got a hit until Vernon Wells led off the Angels fourth with a bloop single. Los Angeles tied it at 1 in the fifth when Bourjos tripled off the wall in left and scored on a sacrifice fly by Mike Trout.
The Angels went ahead in the sixth on an odd passed ball by catcher Carlos Santana.
Torii Hunter doubled and went to third on a one-out single by Kendrick. After Mark Trumbo struck out, right-hander Joe Smith relieved David Huff (1-1) and Kendrick took off for second on a 1-1 pitch. Santana came out of his crouch to get the pitch, which was called a strike by umpire Ted Barrett, but the ball popped out of his glove and rolled down the first-base line. The young catcher scrambled after it and threw to Smith covering the plate, but Hunter slid in ahead of the tag to score the unearned run.
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