What would it feel like to have only nine outs standing in the way between you and a no-hitter? You can feel the adrenaline rush becoming more evident with every out. You’re down to six outs, then three outs and finally, only one out remains between you and an exclusive class of pitchers to throw no-hitters.
Justin Verlander knows what this feels like, and he seems to thrive under the pressure. He experienced it back on June 12, 2007 when Verlander dominated the Milwaukee Brewers with 12 strikeouts on his way to throwing his first career no-hitter.
Today, Verlander was on the mound in a familiar situation. Looking to join an elite group and become only the 30th pitcher in Major League Baseball to throw multiple no-hitters in their career, Verlander was as strong as ever. With three outs remaining in the 9-0 game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Verlander still had enough strength to haul back and toss 100 mph fastballs.
Verlander became the seventh pitcher in MLB history since 1954 to face the minimum amount of batters in a no-hitter. Verlander’s only slip up was a walk to J.P. Arencibia in the eighth which he quickly corrected by getting Edwin Encarnacion to ground into a double play.
Verlander’s second career no-hitter was exactly what Detroit fans needed for a few reasons.
First, Verlander’s no-hitter provided a nice break from talk about the Detroit Red Wings facing elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the hands of the San Jose Sharks for the second straight year.
Also, the no-hitter shows signs that maybe Verlander has matured. Verlander has always been considered as one of the best pitchers in MLB “stuff” wise but he hasn’t been able to put it all together. Verlander only needed four strikeouts in his no-hitter against the Blue Jays and he actually threw a higher percentage of strikes. This could be one of the first steps in Verlander’s journey to becoming an annual Cy Young contender.
Finally, this is something the Tigers can rally behind. Currently, the Tigers sit two games below .500 and are six and a half games behind the division leading Cleveland Indians. This could provide a spark in the Tigers’ dugout that surges them to the top of the division.
The pieces are in place for the Tigers to return to the postseason for the first time since the magical World Series trip in 2006, and the fans are dying to taste postseason baseball again.