One year ago today, Justin Verlander flirted with MLB history and had a chance to become just the fourth pitcher ever to have three no-hitters.
The Detroit Tigers were matched up against the Los Angeles Angels in a night game at Comerica Park. Verlander as we all know has no-hit stuff every time he toes the slab for the Tigers and he put that on full display a year ago, today.
JV looked locked in from the start. He had his fastball working at the top of the strike-zone and had his breaking ball buckling Angels hitters all night long.
After a strikeout of Albert Pujols to end the 7th inning, Verlander had struck out five consecutive batters and headed back to the dugout to a standing ovation from the Comerica Park crowd that night. Mario Impemba added a quote that seemed to add the the excitement that was transpiring at the ballpark that night. While Verlander was walking back to the dugout to the standing ovation, Impemba said “…And they’re sensing something special here at Comerica”.
It’s typical baseball talk, right?… I mean if someone has a no-hitter/perfect game going, you don’t dare speak of it as it serves as a jinx to whomever has the history making moment going at the time.
JV came out for the 8th and kept the no-hitter intact, which left just three more outs for Verlander to accomplish history for the third time in his career. By the time the top of the 9th came around, one could cut the tension within the ballpark with a knife. I’m sure everybody watching, whether they had the privilege of actually being at the game or took the game in from the radio or TV were holding their breath with every pitch Verlander was throwing from that point on.
Chris Iannetta led off the ninth inning for the Angels. On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Iannetta took a 97 MPH fastball from Verlander and laced it down the left field line. The ball would literally fall directly on the chalk line and give the Angels their first hit of the game on a double. The crowds reaction at the ballpark pretty much summed up how all Tiger fans were feeling at that moment. Verlander’s reaction of the mound added to it. The chance to see and repeat history was just scorned.
JV retired the next three batters he faced to complete the near no hit gem. Verlander’s final line read 9IP, 1H, 2BB and 9K. He went onto thank the fans after the game, which was extremely classy on his part. It was a special night at the ballpark, even though history couldn’t repeat itself for the third time in Justin Verlander’s career.
Isn’t it ironic how, today, a year later, Verlander will be on the mound against the exact same team….. Could JV get some redemption on the Angels tonight and have an opportunity to make history? As said before, Verlander has no hit stuff every time he toes the slab.
I have a feeling it’ll be ‘Must-see JV’ on the mound tonight. And good thing Chris Iannetta won’t be in the ballpark, he’s now a member of the Mariners.