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Ervin Santana No-Hitter •Angels 2011 Top Eleven #2

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The lore of the No-Hitter equally confounds the pragmatic (who want accolades reserved for the purest of statistical achievements) and the romantic (with heroes so random as to defy the meta-narrative impulse at the core of every poet in search of a worth subject).

More common than Halley's Comet but less common than a Full Moon, the No-Hitter brings out a lore all its own. The strange fascination with this outlier statistical achievement stems from the fact that it has eluded many of the greats but been accomplished by plenty of men for who it is the only moment of note on their baseball career.

On July 27 in a day game at Cleveland, Angels veteran righty Ervin Santana threw a no-hitter. It was the 9th no-hitter in club history. He was the sixth Angels pitcher to be involved in a no-no. There is an extensive history of Angels no-hitters at the Wikipedia page devoted to this specific subject.

Beyond the lore, this moment of glory was a high point for Angels fans in a season where treading water served as an approximation of contending. For Ervin himself it added great luster to an Angels legacy that is slowly amassing the counting stats through a longevity that belies an insufferably maddening inconsistency - great games followed by blowouts, masterpieces on top of apathetic bed-crappings, and now a no-hitter to go with that All-Star 2008 season (ERA+ of 127), which come close to erasing or at least balancing out the 2007 and 2009 seasons of an ERA+ of 79 and 87 respectively. That Bobby Wilson was the catcher in this contest was a satisfying asterisk to the management that had brayed about the defensive prowess of Jeff Mathis as his offensive black hole slowly sucked out the 2011 season from under the team.

But most of all, it was Ervin's moment in the sun, his first career victory against the Cleveland Indians and the first no-hitter in the corporate named park the Tribe plays in, the same stadium in which Ervin made his major league debut in 2005, surrendering the cycle in his first major league inning pitched. If we had won it all this year by some strange confluence of mathematical destruction, this feat would still be near the top of 2011. As it stands, it was the second greatest moment of the 2011 season.