December 5, 2022

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Rays tip cap to rookie's no-hitter: 'He made it look easy'

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Kluber tagged for eight runs on 11 hits in three innings
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ANAHEIM — There weren’t many close calls. There weren’t any questionable plays. From the start, there was little drama regarding the game’s outcome. But there was history made Tuesday night at Angel Stadium, and the Rays found themselves on the wrong side of it.

Rookie left-hander Reid Detmers pitched a no-hitter in the Angels’ 12-0 romp over the Rays, the sixth time in franchise history Tampa Bay has been no-hit and tied for the sixth-most lopsided no-no in AL/NL history. The last time the Rays were no-hit, Félix Hernández threw a perfect game against them in Seattle on Aug. 15, 2012. On Tuesday, Detmers blanked them in only his 11th career start.

“It’s a heck of an accomplishment,” Rays outfielder Brett Phillips said. “This game is really hard, and tonight, he made it look easy.”

For five innings, Detmers was perfect. The 22-year-old lefty retired each of the Rays’ first 15 hitters while the Angels clobbered Corey Kluber to build up a big lead. Tampa Bay managed just one walk, a sixth-inning free pass by Taylor Walls. Phillips also reached with one out in the seventh inning on an error by Angels first baseman Jared Walsh, who couldn’t corral Phillips’ ground ball … and applauded when the play was ruled an error, extending Detmers’ no-hit bid.

“When you do something special like he did tonight, you’ve got to have everything going,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We don’t know the guy very well, but it certainly appeared from our viewpoint that he had everything going.”

In the ninth, after Phillips gave up four runs in his second pitching appearance of the season, Detmers retired Vidal Bruján, Kevin Kiermaier and Yandy Díaz in order. The crowd, on its feet the entire inning, roared as Díaz rolled Detmers’ 108th and final pitch to shortstop Andrew Velazquez. As the ball settled into Walsh’s glove, the Angels dugout emptied onto the field and formed a mosh pit around Detmers, gleefully bouncing around the infield.

“He just kept us off balance, kept us guessing,” Walls said. “A lot of times in hitters’ counts, when we were sitting [on a] hard [pitch], he would just throw something soft, and he was able to command it in the zone. So when we would take it, he’d get back in the count. I don’t know — just poor approaches by us and a good job by him.”

The Rays only struck out twice, the lowest total in a no-no since Francisco Liriano also recorded two strikeouts in his no-hitter for the Twins on May 3, 2011. They swung and missed on only 10 of Detmers’ 108 pitches. They had no trouble making contact and recorded 10 hard-hit balls, according to Statcast, but were nonetheless flummoxed by everything in Detmers’ arsenal.

“Pitched to contact, got a lot of contact, but it was more softer contact than ideal,” Cash said. “The defense behind him, other than the one ball that Phillips hit, it was a clean game.”

The closest the Rays came to a hit was probably right after Walls walked. Bruján turned on a 2-1 changeup from Detmers and thought he hit it high enough to push it into left field, but third baseman Anthony Rendon made a leaping catch for the first out of the sixth.

“That’s just kind of the way it panned out,” Bruján said through interpreter Manny Navarro. “I thought I put a good swing on it.”

The Rays had previously been no-hit by Derek Lowe (April 27, 2002), Mark Buehrle (a perfect game on July 23, 2009), Dallas Braden (a perfect game on May 9, 2010), Edwin Jackson (June 25, 2010) and Hernández. Nearly a decade has passed since the Rays last experienced this side of the historical feat — nobody on the current roster was with the team that day in Seattle — but Cash did not anticipate their frustration would linger beyond Tuesday night.

“It definitely is a punch in the gut. Kind of takes a hit at your pride a little bit,” Walls said. “But we’re going to go to sleep and wake up tomorrow the same way we did this morning, same way we’re going to do every day [from] here on out.”

While Detmers was rolling, the Angels were ambushing Kluber to run up eight runs on 11 hits in three innings. Nine of their 11 hits off Kluber came within the first three pitches of their at-bats, and four of the nine outs Kluber recorded came on first- or second-pitch swings.

“They squared up balls, and the balls they didn’t square up found holes as well. So when you’ve got that combination, it’s tough to combat that,” Cash said. “They had a really solid approach against him and just had traffic all throughout his outing.”

Kluber finished the third but didn’t return for the fourth despite having thrown only 64 pitches, which Cash explained was simply a workload management decision. Kluber also gave up 11 hits to the Red Sox in a five-inning, four-run start on April 22. In two starts between those outings, though, Kluber only allowed one run on four hits and a walk while striking out 13 over 12 innings. The difference, he said, was just the quality of his pitch execution within the strike zone.

“The last couple games, teams were aggressive as well. I just think I executed pitches better,” Kluber said. “I think I threw enough strikes. I just think there were too many strikes to hit.”

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