In my generation (1985-present), Randy Johnson, David Cone, John Smoltz, Nolan Ryan and Justin Verlander were or are the five pitchers who I believed took “No-hit stuff” to the mound every time they toed the rubber. Only Smoltz on that list wasn’t able to throw a no-hitter.
The other pitchers on my list all threw no-hitters. In Johnson and Ryan’s case, they threw multiple no-nos. Now we can add Verlander to the list of pitchers who threw multiple no-hitters.
His fastball was routinely 99-100 mph and he had all four pitches working yesterday. But it was his fastball that really set the tone for the game.
Like Francisco Liriano, who threw a no-hitter earlier in the week, Verlander didn’t strike many batters out. Liriano had two Ks and Verlander had just four. The Blue Jays were so conscious of Verlander’s fastball that they couldn’t hit anything else. And when they hit his curve or change, it was a little roller to short or a can of corn to center.
As the game went on, not only did Verlander have a no-hitter going, but he had a perfect game going as well. He was perfect all the way up to the bottom of the eighth. Then he faced J.P. Arencibia with one out in the inning.
It was a classic at-bat. It was really great to watch. Both Verlander and Arencibia didn’t give an inch.
It was a 12-pitch AB and Verlander did everything he could to retire Arencibia. He threw three four-seam fastballs, three sliders, two changeups and two curveballs. In the end, Arencibia walked on a pitch that just missed.
Here is the breakdown of the AB courtesy of PitchFX…
As you can see, pitch No. 12 missed by a fraction of an inch. To be honest, PitchFX has the pitch closer than it looked on TV. When I saw it live, it looked like a clear ball. If you just looked at the above plot, you would have thought that home plate umpire Jerry Meals should have given Verlander the call. But I don’t think Meals was at fault for calling the pitch a ball.
Three pitches later, Verlander was able to get Edwin Encarnacion to ground into a 6-4-3 double play and the inning was over. No harm, no foul.
In the ninth, the Blue Jays were no match for Verlander. He got David Cooper to pop up to second, John McDonald to ground weakly to second and then Rajai Davis to swing feebly at a slider to end the game.
The ninth inning was a microcosm of the entire game for Toronto. Weak swings and they didn’t stand a chance.
Verlander becomes just the 24th pitcher since 1919 to throw multiple no-hitters. Six of those pitchers are in the Hall of Fame and Randy Johnson and Roy Halladay will be there.
In the last 24 hours there has been a lot of talk about Justin going into the HOF and possibly throwing another no-hitter. Everyone needs to pump the breaks on those two topics.
As for the HOF, Verlander is only seven years into his major league career. He is going to need to pitch another 10 years before we can start entertaining thoughts of his HOF credentials. If a career was made after seven seasons then Dwight Gooden would have been a first-ballot HOFer.
Congratulations to Verlander on another brilliant pitching performance.