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Twins’ Milton pitches no-hitter against Angels
Posted: Sunday September 12, 1999 09:02 AM
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- For Eric Milton, it was a masterpiece. And it didn't matter that it came against a bunch of minor leaguers.
Milton pitched a no-hitter for the Minnesota Twins on Saturday, overpowering an Anaheim lineup full of late-season callups in a 7-0 victory against the Angels.
Milton struck out a career-high 13, fanning rookie Jeff DaVanon with a 3-2 fastball for the final out.
"I gave it everything I had. It's probably the greatest day of my life," Milton said. "It's not about who's at the plate."
"I knew what was going on," Milton said.
Anaheim began the game last in the AL with a team batting average of .257, and Saturday's lineup was missing most of its stars. Mo Vaughn, Tim Salmon, Jim Edmonds, Darin Erstad, Garret Anderson and Gary DiSarcina all did not play for the Angels, last in the AL West.
The depleted lineup was mostly the result of an early-morning start at the Metrodome. The first pitch came at 11:06 a.m. CDT because stadium workers needed time to get the field ready for a night college football game between Minnesota and Louisiana-Monroe at the park.
The Angels started four players called up in September and one promoted in August. DaVanon, who missed a 94 mph fastball for the last out, made his first start in the majors and does not have a hit in the big leagues.
Troy Glaus was the only Anaheim starter who was in the lineup Friday night when the Angels beat Minnesota 4-2 for their fourth straight victory. The Twins had lost four in a row.
"I wanted to go with that lineup the whole game," Angels interim manager Joe Maddon said. "It wasn't an issue bringing some starters off the bench. If it had been a closer game, but we were down seven runs."
Anaheim's Matt Luke, who went 0-for-3, played with Milton in the Yankees' farm system.
"Every no-hitter is a great feat, an impressive feat," he said. "There have been situations like this in September before."
Denny Hocking, who homered for Minnesota, also Milton deserved all the credit despite the Angels' diminished lineup.
"It doesn't matter. All 28 guys who went up to the plate had an opportunity to get a hit and ruin the no-hitter," he said. "It's still a major league no-hitter."
The Angels managed only three balls out of the infield in the first five innings.
Milton got a standing ovation from the crowd of about 11,222 when he took the mound to start the ninth, and he quickly closed out his gem.
"I didn't want to get too excited until the ninth," he said. "They're weren't many fans, but they were loud."
That brought up DaVanon, and Milton ran the count full before getting the rookie to swing through a fastball with a 94-mile per hour fastball. Of the 13 strikeouts, 10 were swinging.
"When it came down the end, I was able to finish it off. I've always been able to keep calm," Milton said.
"Everytime I pitch I'm down on the corner of the bench by myself anyway," he said. "It was a usual night before a game. I tossed and turned. I just wanted to pitch my game."
Catcher Terry Steinbach, who caught a no-hitter by Dave Stewart in 1990 when both were with Oakland, said the Angels' young lineup was not an advantage to Milton.
"I think it's harder," said Steinbach, who hit a double and triple. "We went over the scouting report and there was nothing, basically blank. It took me about 20 seconds and I said, `This isn't going to help.'"
Milton's teammates rushed out of the dugout for a celebration on the mound after the last out.
"I don't expect it to sink in for awhile," he said. "I'm numb right now, I'm overwhelmed."
It was the first no-hitter by a Twins pitcher since Scott Erickson shut out Milwaukee 6-0 on April 27, 1994. It was first time the Angels had been no-hit since Kenny Rogers, then with Texas, beat them with a perfect game 4-0 on July 28, 1994.
Other Twins pitcher to throw no-hitters were Jack Kralick in 1962 and Dean Chance in 1967.
Milton walked Orlando Palmeiro in the first inning and DaVanon in the third. DaVanon was caught stealing.
Milton's previous low-hit game was a three-hitter, which he has done twice, including in an 8-0 win over the Angels on July 31. His previous career high for strikeouts was 12 against Toronto on Aug. 11.
Denny Hocking drove in three runs with a single and his seventh home run of the year for the Twins.
Angels starter Ramon Ortiz (1-2) was ejected in the bottom of the fifth for hitting Matt Lawton with a pitch after Hocking's two-run homer gave Minnesota a 6-0 lead.
Notes: The Angels had not won five straight since Aug. 22-26, 1998. ... The Twins have grounded into nine double plays in the last five games. ... Because of the early start, the Twins offered fans who wore pajamas to the game a discount on their tickets, but very few seemed to take advantage of the offer. ... Yankees manager Joe Torre was pleased for the former New York prospect. "You could see that coming. He pitched very well against us twice the last month," Torre said after an 11-10 loss to Boston at Yankee Stadium. "It took somebody like Milton for us to get somebody like Knoblauch. We knew we were giving up a good pitcher, so it doesn't surprise me."
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