Canadian plays crucial role in Justin Verlander's no-hitter in Toronto

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TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 01:  Abraham Toro #13 and Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros celebrate a no hitter by teammate Justin Verlander #35 at the end of the ninth inning during a MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on September 01, 2019 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Abraham Toro #13 and Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros celebrate a no hitter by teammate Justin Verlander #35 at the end of the ninth inning. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Houston Astros starter Justin Verlander threw his third career no-hitter on Sunday afternoon, his second on Canadian soil on the road against the Toronto Blue Jays alone. It’s fair to argue that he would not have been able to fully finish the feat without a little help from the only Canadian in the Astros lineup.

As Verlander took his no-hit bid through eight innings, the game remained in a scoreless tie. If the Astros failed to score in the top half of the ninth, the best he could’ve hoped for would be to continue the no-hitter into extra innings. It took 120 pitches for Verlander to complete the game, making it a debatable point whether he would’ve been given the ball to return for the 10th.

Thanks to Abraham Toro of Longueuil, Que., we didn’t get to find out how a pitcher reacts to throwing a nine inning no-hitter without the game ending.

With one out in the top of the 9th, the 22-year-old Toro took Blue Jays closer Ken Giles deep into the bullpen in left field, a two-run home to break the tie and allow Verlander to wrap up his no-hitter and celebrate on schedule.

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It was the second home run of Toro’s career, in his eighth game in the major leagues.

"I could not be happier for that kid. Just an incredible moment for him,” Verlander said to reporters after the game. “From Canada, able to do that and then get the last out as well. Such a special moment. I’m happy I’m able to celebrate with him."

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Toro shredded minor league pitching this season, posting a .324/.411/.527 line in 114 games across Double-A and Triple-A. It has been a whirlwind ascension that has landed him in the major leagues down the stretch run for a World Series contender.

"I still have to calm myself down," Toro said to the Houston Chronicle prior to the series. "At the beginning, I was trying to do too much, swing harder, and then I'm going to try to do whatever I did in the minors and kind of keep that success up here."

As far as first-impressions to bond with your teammates go, clutch home runs to help finish off no-hitters go a long way.

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