Iannetta adjusts stance before spoiling no-hitter

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — Chris Iannetta wasn't up for accepting any congratulations.

"The most important thing is we didn't win," said Iannetta, whose leadoff double off the left-field chalk in the ninth inning spoiled Justin Verlander's no-hit bid. "He pitched a great game. Verlander pitched an amazing game. I got a good pitch to hit, glad I hit it, but the ultimate thing is it was a loss."

Verlander, on a 2-2 count, threw a 97 mph fastball to Iannetta. It was, by his estimation, the only poorly located pitch of the night.

"I threw what I wanted, just didn't locate it," Verlander said. "Me and (Ian) Kinsler were just talking about it. He said that was the only ball all night I threw over the heart of the plate. Everything else was either up or on a corner. That one ran back over the middle.

"Tip your cap. He put a good swing on it."

Iannetta is hitting .188. He has struck out and popped meekly to Kinsler at second before coming to bat in the ninth. In the meantime, he went back with Shane Victorino and Paul Sorrento and looked at some video of himself in better offensive years — namely 2011.

"They're like, 'Your hands are high, you had a leg kick,'" Iannetta said. "So I was like, 'You know what? I'll just do it.' They're like, 'You sure about doing it in the middle of a game?'

"I was like, 'What have I got to lose? What am I going to do, get out?'"

Or, break up a no-hitter.

"He pitched a great game," Iannetta said. "He's always great. He's a tough pitcher. He's one of the best in the game for a reason. He's been that way for a long time, and he is the same as he's always been."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia agreed.

"We've seen Justin for a long time, and it seems like as the game goes on, historically, you really see him start to smell the end of it and his stuff picks up," he said. "That's what we saw tonight.

"The only difference was we saw him when he might have gotten up to 100 miles an hour when he smelled it. He wasn't quite there, but there's no doubt that as that game went on, his stuff picked up and he pitched a terrific game for those guys."

Catcher James McCann caught a no-hitter when he was 15. It was summer ball, he said. Some kid who went to Washington State before he lost track of him. The tension from 10 years ago returned.

"It's nerve-wracking, especially that ninth inning," he said. "You start thinking, almost second-guessing your pitch calling, but after a little while, you just kind of relax, line up, and keep doing the same thing we have been doing."

He said he interacted with Verlander between innings just as he normally would.

"As far as other guys' interaction with him, I don't have the answer for that, but as far as he and I went, between every inning, we continued to discuss how we'd attack the next couple of hitters coming up," he said. "Nothing changed just because all of a sudden we're in a no-hitter situation. We continued to speak. That didn't change for us."

He does not second-guess the choice of a 2-2 fastball to Iannetta in the ninth.

"No," he said. "We had had success with the fastball up and away earlier in the game, and that's what we went with. You just have to tip your cap.

"We maybe didn't hit our spot, but it was 97 mph. For him to put that good of a swing on a ball, after chasing a slider in the dirt, you just have to tip your cap."

But the hit nearly buckled McCann.

"Oh, yeah," he said. "My heart was ripped out of me when I saw it hit the chalk. It was hooking hard, and I was praying that it would continue to hook, but that's baseball for you."