Wilson gets a kick out of catching no-no
Angels backstop sees Santana to promised land in 10th start
CLEVELAND -- Bobby Wilson made his 10th start of the season behind the plate on Wednesday for the Angels.
Presumably, he has now earned a few more.
Wilson felt as if he'd been touched by the baseball gods in catching Ervin Santana's no-hitter, a 3-1 conquest of the Indians at Progressive Field. The lone Cleveland run was unearned in the first inning after an error and a wild pitch.
Undaunted, Santana bowed his head and demoralized the Tribe's lineup with precise fastball command, biting sliders and, for the icing on the cake, an occasional changeup.
"It feels good, very good," Wilson said. "It's nice to know all the hard work I feel I've put in -- the enthusiasm, the commitment to the pitcher-catcher relationship -- I feel today it paid off and was the ultimate high.
"For me, personally, this is the top of the peak. This is something I've always dreamed of doing. Catching a no-hitter in the big leagues is something special, something I'll never forget."
|Bo Belinsky||Orioles||May 5, 1962||2-0|
|Clyde Wright||A's||July 3, 1970||4-0|
|Nolan Ryan||Royals||May 15, 1973||3-0|
|Nolan Ryan||Tigers||July 15, 1973||6-0|
|Nolan Ryan||Twins||Sept. 28, 1974||4-0|
|Nolan Ryan||Orioles||June 1, 1975||1-0|
|Mike Witt||Rangers||Sept. 30, 1984||1-0*|
|M. Langston/Witt||Mariners||Apr. 11, 1990||1-0|
|Ervin Santana||Indians||July 27, 2011||3-1|
"When I caught Sean's no-hitter," Wilson said, "one of the things I said was that I've always admired a guy like Jason Varitek, who has caught multiple no-hitters. He's a guy I idolized as a young player, even growing up. I always envisioned myself being in those situations and having the commitment of the pitcher that you're going to get it done.
"That's the way it was today with Ervin. He was amazing. He went right after guys. He wasn't afraid of anyone. 'Here it is -- hit it.'"
Wilson and Santana talked about the need for the veteran right-hander to rely fully on his exquisite gifts and not to give hitters too much credit.
"It's the same thing we stress with [Tyler] Chatwood -- trust your stuff, don't give the hitters too much credit," Wilson said. "We really saw that today with Ervin.
"He got better as the game went on. You could feel it in the pop of the glove, even with his slider. He went after it."
Wilson mentioned that he was upset about his hitting during the game, as he went 0-for-4 to see his average slip to .182. But that didn't seem to matter much after the last out was secured.
Catchers live for days like this. Wilson had a tremendous spring after losing 33 pounds, and he anticipated getting more playing time, but it hasn't come, with Jeff Mathis and Hank Conger handling most of the work.
Wilson's role expanded when Conger was sent to Salt Lake for more seasoning, but Wilson took nothing for granted.
"You have to earn playing time," Wilson said. "Nothing is handed to you in this game."
Wilson, a 28-year-old Floridian, dutifully does his homework and stays on top of the game, even when he's watching from the bench.
"This is what we strive for every time we get behind the plate," Wilson said. "It's what we work for every day on those long days in Spring Training.
"A lot of good catchers go their entire careers without catching a no-hitter. This, for me, is the ultimate."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.