On September 11, 1999, 11,222 fans filed into the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome for a Saturday noon contest against the Anaheim Angels. Both the Twins (58-82) and Halos (56-84) were doing nothing more than playing out the string on disappointing seasons, the Vikings were set to kick off their season the next day, and I do not believe this matchup was even picked up by FSN television. But whenever two teams meet on a ballfield there is a chance to see something special, and that is exactly what happened on this day.
Opposing the Twins was Angels starter Ramon Ortiz. Yep, the same guy who would spend part of 2007 in a Twins uniform. Somehow he managed to give up a home run to Denny Hocking and a triple to Terry Steinbach, how one knows the day is truly terrible, and ultimately allowed six earned runs in 4.1 innings.
That early offensive output allowed Eric Milton to attack this Anaheim starting lineup:
Not exactly a Murderer’s Row, to be sure, what with the combination of a bad ballclub playing a noon tilt. Troy Glaus is perhaps the only solid player in that starting nine.
That ’99 season, Milton was rounding himself into a competent starting pitcher for the Twins (7-11, 4.49 ERA, 34 starts, 206.1 IP, 1.23 WHIP). He’d ultimately become a mainstay in the rotation for four more seasons until being flipped to Philadelphia for Carlos Silva, Nick Punto (ed note: get money, get paid!) & Bobby Korecky following the ’03 campaign.
On this day, Milton achieved peak dominance, allowing two walks and nothing else to Angel batsmen en route to this line:
Due in large part to the pathetic lineup the Angels trotted into the batter’s box, Milty’s no-no often gets discounted as a “fluke” or somehow undeserving of praise. What is incredibly impressive, however, are the 13 strikeouts on just 122 pitches. Usually, a high K number results in a high pitch count, but not here. This wasn’t just Milton getting lucky against inferior opponents—it was him dominating those inferior opponents.
By the next day, the baseball universe would right itself: Joe Mays & Travis Miller got pounded, the Twins lost, and they would post a 4-15 record the rest of the season. But for that one shining moment beneath the Teflon and atop the lime-green turf, Eric Milton was king of the baseball world.
P.S. Starting at second base for the Twins that no-hitter day was Cleatus Davidson. I consider myself a bit of a scholar on late-90s bad Twins baseball, and this was a name even I could not recall.