Published July 26, 2011
CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Indians have had many high points and dramatic wins this season. This time, it was the opposing team celebrating a memorable performance at Progressive Field.
Ervin Santana pitched the first no-hitter against the Indians in 18 years, striking out 10 in the Los Angeles Angels' 3-1 victory Wednesday. Cleveland committed five errors and yielded the go-ahead run on a costly passed ball.
"It's disappointing we didn't win the game," said Michael Brantley, who flew out to center for the final out. "He was on, we weren't. We'll just say congratulations to him and move on."
The Indians had a 30-15 record and a seven-game lead in the AL Central on May 23, but have been hit hard by injuries and are 22-35 since. The slumping lineup, missing outfielders Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo, has played a key role.
Santana (6-8) completely dominated a batting order featuring three rookies and finished with the first no-hitter at Progressive Field, which opened in 1994.
"Regardless of how our lineup is doing, you can't take credit away from him," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He was good, really good.
"We've see guys throw harder, with good breaking balls, too. A lot of times in no-hitters, you have to have good stuff. That doesn't mean necessarily best stuff. He was terrific today."
Acta said Thursday's off day comes at a perfect time for the Indians, who have scored six runs in the last five games. Cleveland has lost six of seven overall.
"I'd tell guys to go play golf at our charity outing tomorrow," Acta said. "These guys are young. The first or second batter on Friday gets a hit, and we'll forget about this."
Santana and his teammates definitely will remember the first solo no-hitter for the Angels in nearly 27 years.
The 28-year-old Santana 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 the gem in jeopardy and second baseman Howie Kendrick's nifty play saved it in the sixth.
"They made good plays, and we didn't," Indians catcher Carlos Santana said. "He was very good with his fastball, in and out, all strikes."
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 — Sizemore led off with a triple, Coco Crisp doubled, Travis Hafner singled and Ben Broussard homered.
Santana hadn't done much better against the Indians since then. He came into this outing 0-6 with a 4.98 ERA in 10 career starts against Cleveland.
"I never get a win against this team," he said.
But Santana 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 (seven innings) and Witt (two innings) combined to hold Seattle hitless on April 11, 1990.
It was the 12th no-hitter against the Indians, first since New York's Jim Abbott did it at Yankee Stadium 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 Brantley on an easy fly ball to Peter Bourjos.
Santana got off to an ominous start. Carrera reached when his grounder glanced off the heel of shortstop Erick Aybar's glove. He stole second, went to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.
Chisenhall's walk was the lone blemish in the eighth — when Santana struck out the side.
Neither team got a hit until Vernon Wells led off the Angels fourth with a bloop single off David Huff (1-1). 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 Santana.
Torii Hunter doubled and went to third on a one-out single by Kendrick. After Trumbo struck out, right-hander Joe Smith relieved Huff 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.
NOTES: Huff is 0-3 in his career against the Angels. ... Bourjos' triple snapped an 0-for-11 slump since he came off the disabled list. ... RHP Justin Germano, who opened the season in the Indians' bullpen, threw a perfect game Tuesday night for Triple-A Columbus. It was his first win since being sent outright to the Clippers. He struck out seven. ... The last no-hitter against the Indians in Cleveland was Toronto's Dave Stieb on Sept. 2, 1990. ... The last non-shutout no-hitter in the majors was by Houston's Darryl Kile against the New York Mets on Sept. 8, 1993.