There is fire in his fastball, but there sometimes seems to be ice coursing through Mark Langston’s veins.
Pitching seven hitless innings against his former Seattle teammates Wednesday night in his Angel debut produced little more than a glazed smile and a look of bewilderment in his eyes. The first congratulatory message he received after teaming with Mike Witt for the Angels’ first combined no-hitter made him as excited as the achievement itself.
“The first call when I got back to the house was from Bruce Hornsby, and I’m a big fan of his,” said Langston, who met the musician after a concert and often wears a T-shirt from that concert. “That was kind of fun.”
Langston found it easier to sleep than anticipated, nodding off at 1 a.m. after putting his family to bed and watching TV. For Witt, too, it was back to business as usual Thursday--or as usual as life can be for a starting pitcher who has been moved to the bullpen and is convinced he will be traded.
“It’s just a game I pitched in,” said Witt, who had said Wednesday that the game had a “spring training atmosphere” because he knew Langston would not go a full nine innings and other pitchers would get to work.
“I’m not thinking anything, really,” Witt said. “There’s 159 more (games) to go. I don’t get overly excited. I might get a little too far down, but I don’t get overly excited about things, a no-hitter or whatever. It’s fun while it lasts, but today’s another day. It’s just another game.”
But what a game. After issuing two walks in the first inning, Langston gave a masterful performance until conceding to fatigue after seven innings and 98 pitches. Witt finished flawlessly to earn his first save since 1983 and give the Angels their first no-hitter since Witt’s perfect game against Texas on Sept. 30, 1984.
“It wasn’t hard to leave,” Langston said. “I look at it from the standpoint of going back out there when your arm’s tired. When you have to turn it up a notch is when you can get hurt. . . .
“It hasn’t really sunk in. It feels weird. But I think Mike said it best: It did kind of feel like a spring training situation. I knew I wasn’t going to go nine. I started the day hoping to go five-plus, and going seven was enough for me.”
His Angel debut did not make him as nervous as his first game with Montreal, to which he was traded last May after the Mariners realized they wouldn’t be able to meet the price he could command as a free agent over the winter.
In that game, on May 28, 1989, he struck out 12 San Diego Padres in pitching his first National League victory.
“The one in Montreal was the worst. I was so nervous before that start: I’ve never been so nervous in my life,” Langston said. “This time, I wasn’t nervous. I was just anxious to get out there and go. (With the Expos), it was just knowing the trade, being in a new league, 50,000 people being there, and the Beach Boys were playing after the game and I’m a big Beach Boys fan. A lot of things had gone on (leading up to the trade). I was pretty emotional and I wanted to get off on the right foot.”
His first game as an Angel left only the pleasant problem that people might expect a no-hitter every time out. He laughed at that thought.
“This was very lucky and fortunate the way it worked out,” he said. “This was something I couldn’t even have dreamed of happening. My dreams aren’t that good.
“The only time I dream about pitching is like I’m late to the ballpark and line drives are hit at me and I’m flinching all night. This was better than those dreams.”
(Southland Edition C,4) COMBINED NO-HITTERS
DATE PITCHERS 4/11/90 Mark Langston (7 innings), Mike Witt (2) 7/28/76 John Odom (5), Francisco Barrios (4) Vida Blue (5), Glenn Abbott (1), 9/28/75 Paul Lindblad (1) and Rollie Fingers (2) 4/30/67 Steve Barber (8 2/3), Stu Miller ( 1/3) x-John Klippstein (7) 5/26/56 Hershell Freeman (1) and Joe Black (1)
DATE TEAMS SCORE 4/11/90 California vs. Seattle 1-0 7/28/76 Chicago (AL) vs. Oakland 2-1 9/28/75 Oakland vs. California 5-0 4/30/67 Baltimore vs. Detroit 1-2 5/26/56 Cincinnati vs. Milwaukee (NL) 1-2
LESS THAN NINE INNINGS
DATE PITCHERS 8/29/06 Jim Dygert (3) and Rube Waddell (2)
LESS THAN NINE INNINGS
DATE TEAMS SCORE Philadelphia (AL) 8/29/06 vs. Chicago (AL) 4-3
x-Milwaukee’s Jack Ditmer doubled with two outs in the 10th inning and Black lost on three hits in 11 innings.