Angels’ Reid Detmers records no-hitter in 11th big-league start: ‘What were you doing at 22 years old?’

ANAHEIM, Calif. – In between every inning, Reid Detmers sat silently in the dugout, well aware he was inching closer and closer to a piece of history that, just hours prior, would have seemed unthinkable.

No one spoke to him and he spoke to no one. His spot in the Angels’ dugout was his and only his. And hundreds of miles away in Chatham, Ill., Reid’s parents, Kris and Erica Detmers, did the same. They watched the game from home, not moving, not talking. They knew what was happening, but would not speak the history into existence for fear of jinxing it.

Their anticipation mirrored their son’s. Then, when the Rays ‘Yandy Díaz hit a grounder to shortstop and the no-hitter was secured in Detmers’ 11th career start, their celebrations were exactly alike.

Kris, Erica and Reid’s youngest brother, Parker, jumped up, screamed, cried and hugged. In Anaheim, Detmers was mobbed coming off the mound, the normally quiet rookie overcome by a moment that has happened only 12 times in Angels history.

“It’s just something I’ve dreamed of ever since I was a little kid,” Detmers said after the 12-0 win. “I did not think it’d ever happen. I do not even know. I probably will not even remember this tomorrow. ”

The feat is incredible on its own but even more special in its full context. Detmers had never thrown a complete game – at any level. The lefty is just 22 years old after all. He topped out at six innings with the Angels last year and, up until Tuesday’s masterpiece, five this season.

In collecting just two strikeouts, though, he stayed efficiently through the night, requiring 108 pitches in all. He walked one batter in the sixth, spoiling his bid for perfection. Otherwise, he was just that.

“He had a much better mound presence tonight,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “He just looked and felt the part tonight. Bully for him. That’s potentially a life-altering event. ”

Rewind the tape about six hours, and Maddon can be heard pregame saying he did not think Detmers had executed his game plan in the way he wanted to thus far this season. The manager was even noncommittal when asked about Detmers’ standing in the big-league rotation prior to the game.

“Honestly, I do not know that answer, we have to evaluate on a start-by-start basis,” Maddon said. “We think a lot of this guy. Let’s see what happens. We tried to add a couple of little wrinkles, we’ll see if he can actually carry it out. ”

That is not a reflection of Maddon being wrong but rather the 180-degree turn Detmers’ season – and career – took in one magical night.

And about those wrinkles. Detmers threw a more effective changeup and used his fastball more on the inside part of the plate. Kris Detmers said he likes to call his son’s pitches from the couch back home. He’ll often shout changeup, knowing it’s an important pitch for Reid to unlock his potential. He’d thrown that changeup just 5.1 percent of the time this season. On Tuesday, it rose to 22 percent. It generated five swing-and-misses. It was a difference-maker.

“He has not really had to rely on his changeup that much. Mostly fastball, curveball, ”said Kris Detmers, a former professional ballplayer. “It’s just a pitch he needs to throw to get hitters off his fastball.”

This game had it all. Mike Trout hit two home runs. Shohei Ohtani was presented his 2021 AL MVP Award pregame. Anthony Rendon batted left-handed for the first time in his career – and hit a home run, against Rays position player Brett Phillips no less.

That, though, was all just noise. Footnotes on a night that belonged to Detmers. Even as Rendon was asked postgame about his homer, he pretended he did not hear the question. Instead, he spoke about Detmers.

“It’s amazing. We were just talking about it in the training room, ”Rendon said. “Some of the guys were saying, ‘What were you doing at 22 years old?’ If you just watch the way he goes about his business, he just keeps his composure. I think that’s what’s awesome and unique to watch about him, being so young. ”

The only hairy moments of the night came in the top of the sixth when Detmers walked Taylor Walls on a curveball just above the zone to board his first base runner. The next batter, Vidal Bruján, lined one that forced Rendon to make a leaping catch. But Jared Walsh helped turn a nifty double-play to end the inning unscathed.

It was also Walsh who bobbled a Phillips grounder in the seventh inning, leading to several tense seconds while the official scorer considered the play. After the game, Maddon sounded furious about the wait time, believing the judgment was obvious. When the scoreboard flashed error, the crowd erupted.

“I literally knew. Everybody knew (it was an error). I was just like, ‘Hell yeah, give me that error baby,’ ”Walsh said, clapping as he mimicked the moment postgame.


Reid Detmers threw the 12th no-hitter in Angels history. (John Cordes / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Angels have long struggled to draft and develop their own pitching talent, and Detmers, taken 10th overall by the club in 2020, could help change that narrative. On Tuesday night, his Louisville coach, Dan McDonnell, recalled the 2019 NCAA Tournament regionals. Detmers had thrown 100 pitches on Saturday. But there was a winner-take-all game just two days later. Detmers approached McDonnell and told him he would pitch.

“I’m good today. I’m ready to pitch. We ain’t losing, ‘”McDonnell recalled him saying that day. That’s the type of pitcher the Angels signed. That’s why they signed him. And that’s what he gave them on this night, at the highest level.

The finesse lefty with a powerful arm made his way to the majors quickly. Following a brief pit stop in Triple A, he was in Anaheim last July. It was always going to be a work in progress. That’s what the first 10 starts of his MLB career looked like. He struggled with pitch efficiency. He was visibly angry exiting his last start, and open about the things he needed to work on.

“I just kind of had it set in my head coming into the field that I was going to change a couple things,” Detmers said. “I stuck to that, and it worked out.”

Typically before his starts, Detmers can be seen on the clubhouse couch. Sometimes he’ll have a hood up over the top of his head. He’s mostly silent. He’s relaxing, yes, but he’s also locked in, mentally going over his game plan.

That was not the case with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning. He threw a ball to even the count at 2-2, and Chad Wallach fired it back over to him. Detmers flung his glove to catch it, seeming to exhale heavily.

After the game, he acknowledged that was the moment he felt the most nervous. He was shaking.

But the next pitch was jubilation. Jubilation for himself. Jubilation for the Angels, a team that invested in Detmers to be the pitcher they saw on this night. Jubilation for the Louisville baseball program that was watching Detmers after getting home from a game against Indiana.

And most importantly, jubilation for his family back home that lived every moment with Detmers in the same way he did the whole night.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Erica Detmers said. “There are times that it has not really sunk in that he’s in the major leagues. Because he’s still our son. He’s only 22. It just seems so surreal.

“But it’s real.”

(Top photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today)

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