The latest MLB no-hitter was pitched by...

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The latest MLB no-hitter was pitched by...

From Comcast SportsNetANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The Los Angeles Angels' commitment to Jered Weaver is paying off.Signed to a five-year, 85 million contract extension last August, the 29-year-old left-hander pitched his first no-hitter Wednesday night, dominating lowly Minnesota in a 9-0 cakewalk. All the Twins could muster against the two-time All-Star was one walk -- and one other baserunner when catcher Chris Iannetta allowed a passed ball on a swinging third strike."I've been close once in Seattle and had it broken up in the eighth," said Weaver, who struck out nine and retired 22 of his last 23 batters after Iannetta's miscue. "We were having this conversation about five days ago, and C.J. (Wilson) came up to me and said: Why don't you just go out there and throw a no-hitter?' And I said: There's no way. There's no chance.' So it's funny that it happened."Kendrys Morales and Howie Kendrick homered to back Weaver -- not that he needed much support."He dominated us, there's no question about it," said Denard Span, who is 2 for 19 lifetime against Weaver. "He was doing everything. He kept us off-balance, changed speeds and finished strong. He's definitely a different pitcher at home when the ball is coming out of the rocks," referring to the fake rock pile beyond the center-field fence at Angel Stadium.It was the second no-hitter in the majors in less than two weeks, following Phil Humber's perfect game for the Chicago White Sox at Seattle on April 21."It's tough not to think about it when you see some goose eggs up there, but in a professional ballgame, you never know what's going to happen," said Weaver, a native of Northridge, Calif., who played at Long Beach State and pitched his gem in front of family and friends. "A bloop hit or anything else could happen. A lot of things have got to go your way, and that happened tonight. It still hasn't kicked in. It's pretty awesome."Weaver began the ninth inning by quickly retiring Jamey Carroll on a routine fly and striking out Span looking. He then got Alexi Casilla to lift a long fly that right fielder Torii Hunter easily caught at the warning track. The Angels' ace watched his Gold Glove outfielder make the play, and put his hands on his head as the Angels rushed out to mob him."It's not an easy feat," said manager Mike Scioscia, who caught two no-hitters with the Los Angeles Dodgers. "But I think any pitcher that has the stuff that Weave does and pitches at such a high level, you always have a chance. Early in the game, he established the fact that he could hit spots with his fastball and change speeds. He was just relentless at repeating pitches and was ahead in most counts. His stuff didn't look any different tonight than it does any other day."Weaver finished second in the AL Cy Young voting last year after going 18-8 with a 2.41 ERA. He and winner Justin Verlander were the only pitchers listed on every ballot."I was locked in for the most part," said Weaver, who got a scare in the eighth inning when Trevor Plouffe lined a shot that hooked a few feet foul of the left-field pole. "I wasn't throwing 97 or 98 up there. It was pretty much the same poo-poo I've been throwing up there all year. They've got some guys in that lineup that can hurt you, but balls were hit right at people. It's just so surreal, man. It's awesome. And to have my family here and my wife, and knowing that my brother was watching, this is an awesome moment."Weaver threw 121 pitches, and the cheers from the crowd of 27,288 kept growing louder. After his no-hitter was complete, he hugged his wife, Kristin, and his parents, Dave and Gail, who were overcome with emotion."He got pretty emotional, but I think it was more a case of him not believing he did it than anything else," Dave Weaver said. "I'm so happy for him. It's just fantastic. It couldn't happen to a nicer kid or a kid who's worked as hard as he has to get where he's at."This was the second Angels no-hitter in less than a year -- Ervin Santana pitched one July 27 at Cleveland -- and the 10th for the Angels franchise, including four by Nolan Ryan."Weave's been close several times. And with the stuff that he has, I thought if anybody could do it, he was definitely going to be the one," Hunter said. "Santana got it done for us last year, and now Jered got it done. This is awesome, man."The closest the Twins came to a hit was with one out in the third, when Carroll laid down a bunt that third baseman Mark Trumbo charged before throwing him out."I felt like I was in good position," Trumbo said. "I'm never really surprised when somebody tries to lay one down on me, so I prepared myself. Fortunately, I was out there about 3 o'clock doing some stuff like that. So I just went back to that and treated it like what we worked on earlier and it worked out."Trumbo had never played third base in the majors until this season, but had to shift from first base after the acquisition of free agent slugger Albert Pujols -- who still hasn't hit a home run this season after signing a 10-year, 240 million contract."You're aware of what's going on, no doubt," Trumbo said. "I feel fortunate to have experienced Ervin's no-hitter last year at first base, so that helped to calm me a little bit. But it's nerve-racking. I'd be lying if I said say otherwise. But you have to have the mindset that you do want it hit to you. If you ever get the mindset: Hit it to somebody else,' you're dead in the water."The Twins were held hitless for the first time since 1998, when David Wells of the New York Yankees pitched a perfect game against them. Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue and Nolan Ryan also threw no-hitters against Minnesota.The Angels built a 6-0 lead against Australian right-hander Liam Hendriks (0-2), who retired only six of the 16 batters he faced."All the little things a baseball team is supposed to do, we didn't do. We looked like a bunch of Little Leaguers out there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.The Angels' three-game sweep of the Twins included a complete-game three-hit shutout on Tuesday night by Jerome Williams, who retired 18 of his last 19 batters. It was the first time the Angels had back-to-back complete game wins since 1993 when Chuck Finley and Mark Langston did it.NOTES:The Twins haven't had a hit in the last 15 innings. ... Gardenhire will miss the Twins' three-game series at Seattle to attend his daughter Tara's graduation from Southwest Minnesota State. Bench coach Scott Ullger will run the club until Gardenhire returns Monday for the start of a three-game series with the Angels at Target Field. ... Kendrick was 4 for 4 with his fourth homer of the season, a three-run shot in the fourth against Alex Burnett.

For the Blackhawks defense, change is the new normal

For the Blackhawks defense, change is the new normal

Ulf Samuelsson saw the changes the Blackhawks made this season, his hiring as assistant coach being one of them. Soon he’ll be working with the team’s defensemen, another area that’s had some upheaval.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity here, some uncertainties and some moving parts that I probably, typically haven’t seen going into a season. So that makes it even more interesting and challenging,” Samuelsson said. “So I’m looking forward to this opportunity to really develop and work with some of the younger players.”

From its immediate coach to its personnel, the Blackhawks’ defense is dealing with plenty of change that will continue when the season begins this fall. The Blackhawks have had some addition (Connor Murphy, Jan Rutta and Jordan Oesterle) but dealing with the subtraction (Niklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van Riemsdyk) will nevertheless be tough. Coach Joel Quenneville said on Friday that pairings are a work in progress.

“We’re going to see when we’re putting the pairs together, whether we're going to reunite [Duncan Keith] and [Brent Seabrook] or look for some balance,” he said. “There are a lot of options. We’ll look forward to that and sorting it out.”

For Murphy, who was acquired in the deal that sent Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes, there are no set expectations as to where he fits yet.

“With any team you go into training camp proving where you’re going to be. Everyone has to come in and earn certain positions, especially me being a guy who they’re not as familiar with; I have to show what I can do,” Murphy said. “I definitely want to bring a more physical edge to defending at times and be able to skate well, have a good reach, make smart reads and try to help out with whatever’s needed with that.”

As for young players, the opportunity is there. Gustav Forsling admits he wasn’t happy that fellow Swede and role model Hjalmarsson was traded. But Forsling, who looked strong coming out of camp last September, knows he has to take advantage of the situation.

“Of course, I want to take the next step and play more,” he said. “I want to keep progressing my game and keep developing.”

The same goes for Jordan Oesterle, who the Blackhawks signed to a two-year deal on July 1.

“When I wanted to come here the opportunity was tremendous. Just the chance to come in and try to make the top six is there, it’s a battle with a number of us guys but that’s all you ask for in the situation I’m in,” he said. “Just the amount of opportunity that is in front of me just drives me even more. I want to be here and force their hand to keep me here.”

Again, the Blackhawks could re-address defense once they implement Marian Hossa’s long-term injured reserve after the season begins. General manager Stan Bowman said there’s “no exact plan” right now on how they use that space – “that’s probably going to be dictated by where we’re at when we get to October, how the team’s playing, what areas are strong, what areas we want to add to,” he said.

It remains to be seen on that front. Regardless, from coaching to personnel, much has changed with the Blackhawks defense. 

Familiar problems for Fire in loss at New York City FC

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USA TODAY

Familiar problems for Fire in loss at New York City FC

A game which paired two of the top teams in the MLS standings didn’t deliver in a traditional sense, but did produce a wild game on Saturday.

The Chicago Fire looked like a team coming off a break in Saturday’s 2-1 loss at New York City FC. The Fire played up a man from the 12th minute on, but defensive lapses throughout and a lack of crispness in front of goal cost the Fire.

After a first half in which the Fire (11-4-5, 38 points) were outshot 7-4 despite the man advantage, NYCFC (11-6-4, 37 points) scored twice in the first five minutes of the second half and held off the Fire’s late surge.

For much of the match, the Fire struggled to complete passes and couldn’t even put shorthanded New York City under pressure. Once the Fire fell behind 2-0, David Accam, who entered the match as a halftime sub, got the Fire within one with a long-range effort that slammed in off the bottom off the crossbar.

The final 30 or so minutes resembled the Fire’s previous struggles this season of playing against teams defending deeply. The Fire couldn’t score against Orlando when the Lions were down two players on June 4. Later in June in the U.S. Open Cup, the Fire couldn’t score against USL opponent FC Cincinnati which defended deep the entire match.

NYCFC took the lead two minutes into the second half on a David Villa volley where Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson was screened on the shot. A few minutes later Frederic Brillant rebounded his own header on a set piece to double the lead.

Accam’s goal finished off a stretch of three goals in eight minutes, but the Fire couldn’t beat former goalkeeper Sean Johnson again despite 25 shots.

The loss snapped the Fire’s 11-match MLS unbeaten run and tightened up the Eastern Conference race. Toronto FC, which tied NYCFC in Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, is up a point on the Fire. NYCFC is now a point behind the Fire with an extra game played.

Before the red card, the Fire caught a big break when a Bastian Schweinsteiger turnover nearly led to a penalty kick. Johan Kappelhof slid to knock the ball away from Herrera in the fourth minute, and appeared to miss the ball, but the ref did not give the penalty to the hosts.

Fire defender Brandon Vincent was announced as a starter before the match, but the club said he suffered a left quad strain in warmups and was replaced by Michael Harrington in the lineup.