Jered Weaver vs. Anthony Swarzak: if you told me one of these guys would be taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning, I would have assumed it would be Weaver. After all, Weaver has emerged as one of the best pitchers in the American League, while Swarzak didn't even make the team out of spring training. Swarzak wasn't even scheduled to start last night, but was slotted in when Liriano's shoulder started acting up. Weaver is third in the league in strikeouts, with 77, third in ERA (2.10), and in the top five in, well, pretty much everything else. Swarzak, on the other hand, is the definition of replacement-level: he has good enough control and misses just enough bats to be useful, but he isn't going to blow anyone away with his stuff, and he'll probably always find himself buried behind several other fringe starters on the depth chart. Weaver certainly pitched well, giving up just two hits while striking out seven and walking two over nine shutout innings, but it was Swarzak who nearly pitched a no-no. Let's look at the pitch f/x data to see how he did it.
Swarzak did a decent job peppering the strike zone. He threw his fastball a lot, 71.4%, but it had some movement and he located it well enough to prevent the Angels from making solid contact. Overall, Swarzak wasn't great, and he got away with some bad pitches toward the end of his outing (the hanging curveball to Peter Bourjos probably would've been a home run to anyone else), but he did just enough to keep the Angels off balance for most of the night. He kept his team in the game, and for once, the offense and the bullpen rewarded a starting pitcher for his efforts. Matt Capps and Alex Burnett pitched two scoreless innings, and Danny Valencia came through with a bases-loaded hit in the bottom of the tenth.
On a completely unrelated note: Carlos Gomez hit an inside-the-park home run yesterday. I miss that guy. Not that the Twins really need another light-hitting backup outfielder, but they could use a goofball like Go-Go to make a depressing season much more fun to watch.