California Angels left-hander Mark Langston felt his stuff was subpar while warming in the bullpen before last night's one-hit performance against the Orioles, which means one of two things.
Either he doesn't stretch the truth well, or the walk from the bullpen to the dugout did him wonders, because he threw some strong stuff at the Orioles for eight innings in earning his 13th victory, 2-1.
"That's a pretty good sign for me if I have a bad bullpen," Langston said. "I just felt looser and looser as the game went along."
Langston allowed only five runners in eight innings and struck out nine before yielding to closer Mike Butcher in the ninth after 115 pitches.
"I had a real good fastball and my curve was getting over. When theyare working for me, that's when I have success," said Langston.
He gave the Angels their second straight strong performance by a left-hander, matching the two-hit, one-run effort by Chuck Finley Tuesday night in the Angels' 1-0 loss to the Orioles' Jamie Moyer.
"Whatever I said last night, ditto, except we win," said California manager Buck Rodgers. "Four runs in two days [from starters]. This has been as good back-to-back pitched games as I've seen all year."
Langston had, of course, traveled down the no-hitter path before, combining with former teammate Mike Witt to blank Seattle, 1-0, on April 11, 1990, the first combined no-hitter in the majors in 14 years.
Langston said he felt he pitched better last night than on the night of the no-hitter because his control was sharper.
"He threw great when he threw that no-hitter. It was easy to play behind him when he did it. He threw great tonight," said Mark McLemore, who played second base for the Angels when Langston and Witt threw the no-hitter.
Langston looked nearly untouchable as he cruised through the Orioles' order twice, surrendering only walks to David Segui, Harold Reynolds and Mike Devereaux.
Cal Ripken led off the seventh with a sharp single to center field to break up the no-hit bid, which Langston said relieved the pressure.
"It was a curveball low," Langston said of the pitch that Ripken hit. "A curveball to a hitter like Cal Ripken, you're fortunate to keep it in the ballpark. Once they get that hit, it's almost a relief."
Langston, who has won four Gold Gloves, might have escaped with a shutout if not for his throwing error whil trying to get the front end of a double play on the next batter, Chris Hoiles, who hit a grounder near the mound.
Rodgers' only tough decision regarding Langston was when or whether to take him out. Rodgers said Langston looked strong in the eighth, but he wanted to bring in Butcher, the right-hander, in the ninth to work to Devereaux and Ripken.