Two no-hitters (and counting?) for Verlander

Not only did Jack Morris, the last Tiger before Justin Verlander to throw a no-hitter, give a good effort to sum up Verlander’s stuff, he had an uncanny sense of timing when he did it.

Morris picked his points about the next step Verlander needs to take, throwing fewer pitches, not falling behind as many batters, and slowing down the pace. In the end, though, he saw what others have.

“I wish I could get into his head and just slow him down,” Morris said, “because he’s got the kind of stuff that he could throw one-, two-, three-hit ball every time he goes out there.”

Two days later, Verlander took the mound at Rogers Centre and threw no-hit ball — again.

In his sixth Major League season, three months past his 28th birthday, Verlander has two no-hitters, becoming the 28th member of the multiple no-hitter club. Only one other Tiger, Virgil Trucks, is on that list, and threw both of his on his way to a 5-19 record in 1952.

Just five pitchers in Major League history have thrown three, and nobody since the great Nolan Ryan threw his seventh in 1991. No matter what else Verlander accomplishes in his career, and he still has quite a few feats left to do, there’s little doubt Verlander will get a chance at a third no-hitter.

As long as he stays healthy, he has the stuff, and the drive.

“He’s got two of them now, and that doesn’t surprise me,” manager Jim Leyland told reporters after the game. “And it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets another one at some point in his career. That’s how good his stuff can be on days.”

Ryan threw two no-hitters in 1973, at age 26, then threw another the next year at 27, then another the following year at 28. But his first two no-hitters came in his sixth Major League season. Sandy Koufax threw his no-hitters in 1962 and 1963, before he turned 28, then added two more in the next two years. He was eight years into his career at the time of his second no-no.

Larry Corcoran threw three no-hitters in his first five seasons, one every other year, before he turned 25. But then, he was a rookie in 1880. Around the same time, Pud Galvin threw no-hitters in 1880 and ’84, before he turned 28.

Bob Feller threw no-hitters in 1940 and 1946, the latter at age 27, with his service in World War II in between.

Cy Young threw three no-hitters over the course of 12 years during his 22-year career.

By no judgment is Verlander in that class. But he is in a unique position — in age, in experience, in stuff.

It isn’t that Verlander has one unhittable out pitch he goes to time and again. He has honed the ability to throw at least three different pitches for outs at any time. He can overpower a hitter with a 100 mph fastball — even late in a game, as he showed Saturday. He can change speeds when he wants, even when behind in counts. And when he’s on, he can drop a sharp-breaking curveball, as he did for at least one of his four strikeouts Saturday.

“Verlander continues to throw the ball really well,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said last month after Verlander beat them. “You don’t see too many guys in this league pounding 97, 98, 99 and his changeup is 84. It’s a very tough guy to face. …

“I haven’t seen him in a little while. To me, he seems the same every time he faces us. He’s very dominating.”

Considering he entered the day second only to Jered Weaver in strikeouts among American League pitchers, fanning four batters Saturday was low. But it also showed off his ability to pitch to contact when he needs it.

“It goes to show you that sometimes trying to make them put the ball in play isn’t a bad idea,” teammate Brandon Inge said. “I knew he had a good chance because he had a lot left in the tank going into the seventh, eighth, ninth inning and he was going to be hard to hit.”

He showed signs of doing that last summer, when he started mixing speeds on his fastball to save his energy for the later innings. His stuff is the same as when he broke into the league, only with more polish and a better idea how to use it.

He’s also a perfectionist about it. He can be frustrated at times when he doesn’t have a pitch working early. He had a devil of a time settling down against the Yankees in his last start because he had too much energy, and couldn’t change speeds the way he wanted. Other nights, fastball command has been a problem.

But when he has everything on, he is a miserable time for hitters.

“I always think he’s got his A-game,” Leyland told reporters Saturday. “Once in a while, he gets out of whack and overthrowing, but he’s always got ‘A’ stuff. Sometimes he doesn’t always use it as effectively, but today … Alex called a great game, he mixed his pitches effectively, and he pinpointed the ball really well. He knew he had some extra when he needed it.”

Not only has Verlander never been on the disabled list, he hasn’t missed a turn in the Tigers rotation since his rookie season. When his velocity was down in 2008, he insisted he was healthy, and he pitched through it. He threw 300 pitches more than anybody else in the Majors in 2009, fell five short of topping the big leagues again last year, and is already up around the leaders in pitches thrown this season. Yet between an offseason workout program he examines to the last detail, and a delivery that doesn’t seem to stress his arm, he keeps on throwing the same stuff.

His long-term success — the 20-win seasons, the All-Star Game appearances, and likely the Tigers’ postseason hopes — depend a lot on how he does on an average, when he doesn’t have all his best pitches. But when he has everything, he’s going to be tough to hit — at all.

“It’s special,” Leyland said. “You just don’t see this kind of stuff very often, obviously, and to be part of it is a thrill.”

25 Comments

Just goes to show how difficult it is getting a perfect game. I thought the final pitch to their catcher in the 8th was close enough to be called a strike, considering the score and situation, but it was off the plate so can’t complain. Now Alex needs to learn to rip that mask off on the final out of these classics so we can see his smiling face running out to the mound on the hundreds of replays we’ll see in the future.
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I want to mention Jackson’s three hits today, none of them cheap either. Victor looks like he’s heating up.

Jason, I knew you were off for this series and was wondering if you were going to post today, considering the circumstances. Thanks!
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Today’s pitching is getting most, if not all, of the attention today obviously, but the offense was great too. Hopefully we can keep it up!

I agree Rich the walk pitch in the 8th was close enough and could of been called a strike but it was a ball so oh well! In fact I would say there wre worse pitches called strikes for all pitchers that day??? So I won’t say Tiger Fandom was cheated out of a second perfect game, but getting kinda close? In fact I will always call Armandos game PERFECT always!

I shouldn’t forget to mention that Alex Avila has caught a perfect game and one that was within a whisker of being one. That shouldn’t be forgotten!

Hey! Does anyone know if Coke is getting skipped this next turn through the rotation? Looking at the probable pitchers it looks like he is… Also, does anyone know who is pitching next Saturday (May 14)? Thanks!

There’s no way Verlander is pitching Wednesday on three days rest, so the probables are probably wrong. At this point, I would expect Penny to start on the 14th.

Today feels like the “afterglow.” Also, we have to be thrilled with the defense behind him and the fact Verlander is such a good fielder himself. Several of our pitchers would never have gone after that ball and thrown to first. Miggy had a tremendous game defensively. Jhonny did as well. Sizemore held his own. They put on quite a show! Verlander wished every mom a happy Mother’s Day. Well, son, you couldn’t have given this mom a better gift!

Thanks Rich!

WHY were we pitching to Bautista there? That was dumb.

Another nice win. I agree Rich why pitch to him there, no need. Austin is starting to get it I think, and Magglio is hitting the ball a lot harder. Casper Well and the Tigers were screwed out of another run when he was called out at third, a case of another umpire not in the position to make the right call. Go figure he was in the wrong position yesterday as well, when Raburn was called out at second.
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Funny how fewer people show up on this board when they are doing well, but are here in full force when there is something or someone to complain about. Probably shouldn’t have said that but oh well.

All is well in Tigerland when we win. No need to vent. Just another day in paradise.

Real nice when the team is purring along down the highway.
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Funny how the SOC likes to change the roster but not starting positions. Good to see the offense coming out of the general funk.
Boesch and Raburn splitting AB’s doesn’t appear to be working. Both have stats that justify playing against all pitching. One needs to be given regular playing time.
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How about Furbush and Below each pitching 8 innings fior a combined 3 hits.
And neither get a win.

Gk, you made many of the comments I was going to make today. Two horrendously blown calls on the bases the past two days. If this crew did their normal rotation, though, it wouldn’t have been the same ump as yesterday. Usually the homeplate ump will rotate to thirdbase the next game.
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Also had a ridiculous decision by Lamont to send Martinez home. I like to make their defense execute the play, but this went way beyond that. It was a suicide mission for Victor. Sometimes I wonder if Gino is watching the same game we are. And I can’t fathom why we pitched to Bautista there. See, I can complain even when we win. :-)
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Jackson is red hot now and we’ve won 5 of 6. Not a coincidence. To demonstate how devasting a 7-game losing streak can be, if we’d won just 2 of the 7, we’d be 19-16 now. People were correct to react, and react loudly, to that streak. You can’t lose that many in a row. Obviously.
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If Scherzer is on tomorrow, I’ll almost feel sorry for the Jays facing this kind of pitching. Almost, but not quite.

Just got home. It was a nice win. That snaps my personal 3 game losing streak of attending games. Penny seemed to really fight the strike zone early. At one point, he had the same amount of balls as strikes. But he really settled in after we had the 2 run answer back 4th.
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The call at 3rd was a joke. I was just back of the 3rd base dugout and had a plain view. Maybe the ump should have called the game from my seats. Even Jays fans around me knew the call was bad.
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Rich, you were right again regarding sending Victor. Rivera had the ball before Victor even stepped on 3rd base. It was a terrible decision and a lucky break Arencibia didnt hold the ball all the way through the play.
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AJax was great today. He turned on the HR like someone getting his confidence back.
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Hopefully, they can finish the series off strong tomorrow. But we are up against the Jays version of “nastiness” in Brandon Morrow.
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Go Tigers.
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— Bob

Okay, gk, I’ll post something even though they won today. I missed today’s game due to Mother’s-in-Law Day. Maybe that brought them some more luck, lol. I did see all of JV’s no-hitter Saturday. Wow! Great pitching. Solid defense. Good hitting. My only complaint came in the very first inning. Once again with the team still in a hitting slump, JL did not call for Sizemore to bunt Jackson down to 2nd base where he could have scored easily on a single from either Maggs or Miggy. Granted they didn’t need that run by the end but what if…..?

We’ve been on the road for a week now and I missed the last games when things started to pick up again. Did see the game today and looking forward to seeing the one tomorrow (hopefull it’s on TV here).
That’s great that JV was able to throw another gem without having to K a dozen hitters to do it.
AJ is more confident for sure. I hope he is back into a groove but I am still waiting for the other show to drop with Magglio. I am still unconvinced.

My bad Rich I thought they went the other way. But now that I think about it my favorite umpire (not) Jim Joyce was at 1st one night then at home the next day. Regardless two really bad calls on the base path. Martinez looks horrible running. What I don’t remember is he just that bad or it because of his groin???
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Good weekend in Detroit with the Wings hanging in there, a no hitter and a couple of wins. Whoopie!!!

How often does a missed called strike 3 lead to a hit the next pitch? Wasn’t even close to a ball.

Well we have lefties in tonight. JL ignored our lefties the last few days despite their track record. At least Raburn is in there. My hero Ryan Raburn has misplayed something in nearly every game he’s played in and I would most definitely have his bat in over Magglio any day.

After watching the last couple innings of this win, I have a question for hopefully Jason. Earlier this year Ryan Perry went on the DL with an eye infection I believe. I didn’t hear much about this, 15 day DL…. can’t put his contacts in. I thought “why can’t he just wear glasses?” But hey I am not an MD nor a baseball player. So after Ryan look atricious in the 9th tonight in mop up duty I start thinking to myself… is there something else up with Ryan? Any insights? Because he looks bad out there, and has too good an arm to look that bad. With all these young arms knocking at the door, Ryan might find himself in Toledo soon, even without an eye infection.

Oh Ryan Perry, not good! I know it’s not as simple as this, but he was missing everything by a few inches. Why not move over a few inches??! Hahaha

Perry hadn’t pitched in a week but…….that only goes so far in explaining tonight’s struggles. I don’t know what to think of that. Tonight aside, my overall impression of Perry has been that he hasn’t lived up to expectations, due in some part I think, from being rushed to the big leagues. We have a tendency to do that with young pitchers sometimes.
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Other than that, it was a great game for the hitters. When Toronto went up 2-0, I opined that it was twice as many runs as they’d need. Morrow looked that good. Then ka-blam, HE blows up. Go figure this stuff. Anyway, we finally got back to .500 so let’s get at least that split in Minny then get back to Detroit and start putting some more wins together.
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Question with no answer: why on earth did Escobar try to score from first there in the 9th? That was inexplicable, considering the game situation.

Escobar trying to score from 1st in a 10-2 game was boneheaded. Give credit to the Tigers D, Jackson and Santiago made great throws and Avilia did a gret job blocking the plate.

Santiago executes plays about as well as anyone in baseball. He’s learned the game inside and out and puts it into practice everytime out there. It’s for that reason he remains my favorite Tiger. Okay, maybe he doesn’t need to start but I’d sure have him fill in more often. I’m convinced he’d play more on any other team. Avila is kind of blowing me away with his rapid improvement. It’s good to have multi-tooled ballplayers on the club.

Two terrific series in a row, way to get back to even guys, good scratching and fighting and tremendous starting pitching. Dare I say our starters are doing so well that our relievers are not getting enough work in? I am loving Al Alburquerque big time. That guy is on fire right now, hope he can keep it up. I haven’t read the articles but there has been some concern about Miggy, Rod stated last night he likely needs a day off. Even the greats go through some slumps and maybe he just got tired of shouldering the offense, and now that the rest of the team has picked him up he is chilling a little bit? Give him another week before worrying and give him a day off (just not at Comerica).

Nicely done guys, would you have guessed a 6-0 start for Max? Nothing against Max, just in general for the team to allow that kind of a start!

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