Justin Verlander Throws No-Hitter: Will It Spark Detroit to Make a Division Run?

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Justin Verlander Throws No-Hitter: Will It Spark Detroit to Make a Division Run?
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Around 6:45 p.m. EST, Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander threw a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays, facing the minimum 27 batters in leading his team to a 9-0 victory.

It is Verlander's second no-hitter of his stellar six-year career and the seventh in franchise history. He threw the team's most recent no-hitter in Detroit's 4-0 victory over Milwaukee on June 12, 2007. 

The difference between that performance and this one is the fact that today's performance was oh so close to being a perfect game. In fact, Verlander's lone mistake came with one out in the eighth inning when he walked Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia on a 3-2 pitch after a back-and-forth 12-pitch at-bat.

With his performance today, he becomes the 28th pitcher in MLB history to throw multiple no-hitters.

Verlander improves to 3-3 on the season and lowers his ERA from 3.75 to 3.16. He is currently tied for fifth in the Majors with 55 strikeouts.

"I had really good control of my fastball," said Verlander of his performance. "I was able to move the ball around, keep guys off balance and get some quick outs. Having been in this situation before, I was able to calm myself down a little bit better."

The Tigers, who currently stand at 16-18, good for third place in the AL Central, were expected by many to contend for the division crown this season, yet have struggled through the first 34 games.

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Who knows? This performance may be the spark the team needed to get them out of their early-season funk. Should Austin Jackson and Magglio Ordonez began to hit their stride, this lineup could look quite potent.

With a starting rotation that features three pitchers with an ERA under 4.00, it is reasonable to believe that the Tigers are on the verge of breaking out.

Detroit took a 3-0 lead in the third inning, scoring runs on a walk, a wild pitch and a groundout. Two home runs in the fourth inning pushed the lead to 6-0, effectively putting the game out of reach.

Verlander had some help from his teammates, as his defense came up with some stellar plays behind him.

In the fifth inning, after being hit on the forearm off a line drive from Edwin Encarnacion, Verlander picked the ball up and rifled a one-hopper to Miguel Cabrera, who handled it for the close out at first.

Cabrera outdid himself one inning later, jumping and catching a liner to end the sixth, and a great, back-handed scoop was made by shortstop Jhonny Peralta for the first out of the seventh.

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2004 MLB Draft, Verlander has been part of a resurgence in Detroit that has seen the Tigers go from perennial losers to legitimate playoff contenders year in and year out.

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Catcher Alex Avila helped his pitcher out not just behind the plate, but with the bat, going 1-for-3 with a HR, two RBIs and two runs.

Going into today's game, Verlander's career stats showed that he had a 85-55 record with a 3.80 ERA in 1112.1 innings pitched with a K/BB ratio of 1016/370. Only once has he finished a season with an ERA above 3.66.

In just his short career, Verlander, with his second no-hitter, has etched his name with some of the game's in the history books.

"It's really amazing when you consider that Greg Maddux never pitched a no-hitter," said ESPN Baseball Tonight analyst Tim Kurkjian. "Throwing two (no-hitters) puts you on a very special list in baseball history."

And this may just be the beginning of greater things for the Cy Young candidate.

"Keep in my how young he is," said Kurkjian. "It's relatively safe to say at his age (28) that's he'll get another no-hitter."

Could this be a signal that baseball is becoming more dominated by pitchers after an era that saw incredible performances from hitters in recent years.

There were six no-hitters last season, two this season, and we nearly had another one by Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo early in the day. Gallardo lost his no-hiiter when he gave up a single to St. Louis third baseman Daniel Descalso to lead-off the eighth inning.

"I've been charting this for years now," said Kurkjian. "Pitching has been making a comeback for the last five years now. Look at how many players and how many teams are really struggling. Pitching is really close to being all the way back."

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