Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander(notes) became the second pitcher to throw a no-no in the past four days, facing the minimum 27 batters in a 9-0 victory against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday. He's also the 27th pitcher in major league history to throw multiple no-hitters in his career.
This time, there shouldn't be any critiques of style, or even substance, as with Liriano's no-no. Verlander was five outs away from a perfect game when he walked J.P. Arencibia(notes) in the eighth after a 12-pitch battle.
Verlander had gotten ahead of Arencibia 0 and 2 before he fouled off six pitches and took four more for balls. And check out where pitch No. 12 was, courtesy of MLB.com's Gameday (classic view, naturally). :
Just outside — and very close to where three other pitches had been called strikes. But home plate umpire Jerry Meals called the fastball a ball, and Verlander was denied his chance at perfection. History was still on the table, however.
By the way, the last two pitches in Arencibia's at-bat were both clocked at 100 mph by Pitch F/X. Verlander was still under 100 pitches — 94 and 95, to be exact — so he had plenty of gas left in the tank. It helped that Edwin Encarnacion(notes) followed Arencibia's walk by hitting into an inning-ending double play.
Maybe this pleases former Tigers ace Jack Morris. Just this week, Morris criticized Verlander for purposely trying to "glorify" himself by going for strikeouts, and trying to catch Nolan Ryan on the career K list, rather than getting quicker at-bats.
In Verlander's first career no-hitter, June 12, 2007 against the Brewers, he racked up 12 strikeouts. Happy, Jack?
But when we're comparing one no-hitter against another by the same pitcher — something we can't do with Morris, who threw only one — it's pretty safe to say that the guy is really, really good. Great, even.
And yet, others have been dismissive of Verlander's greatness. Despite allowing three runs or fewer in each of his seven starts coming into Saturday, Verlander had won only once in his past five outings. And he had only made it past six innings in three of his appearances this season.
So, the thinking goes, maybe right-hander Max Scherzer(notes) should be considered the Tigers' ace starting pitcher? He hasn't lost this season (5-0) and has thrown two shutouts in his past three starts.
On Saturday, Verlander showed everyone where such talk can be filed. If you define "ace" as someone who could hold the other team without a hit on any given night, there's probably only one pitcher on the Tigers' staff who fits that description. He's the second pitcher in franchise history to throw two no-hitters, joining Virgil Trucks.
If any naysayers insist on holding their ground, they could point out that Verlander still has five to go before he matches Nolan Ryan's seven career no-hitters. Ryan was 44 when he threw his seventh no-no 20 years ago. Verlander is only 28 years old, so you might not want to rule him out from that just yet.
Hey, Jack Morris; Maybe Verlander still can catch The Express, after all.