18 May 2012
With one out in the ninth inning, and two-strikes against him, Pittsburgh DH Josh Harrison threw his bat at a breaking ball that was off the plate and looped a slow liner up the middle for a base hit. It was the first hit of the night for the Pirates, and the only hit they would record against Justin Verlander in the entire game.
It was just one of those nights. It seems like we say this every time Verlander goes out, but he had his good stuff tonight and had everyone thinking no-hitter by the end of the fourth inning. The perfect game was off the table early – Neil Walker drew a walk in the very first inning – but Verlander mowed through the Pittsburgh lineup all night long, recording 12 strikeouts and forcing nine groundouts.Verlander’s game score was 95, which ties him with Jered Weaver (no hitter) for the third best score in the major leagues this year. Only Philip Humber’s no hitter, and a Matt Cain one-hitter have scored better – both at 96. It was the second time that Verlander posted a game score of 95 (the best mark of his career), the other was his 2007 no-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers.
But, the grand scheme of the season, the bigger story was the quality win that the team put up. It’s been a rarity for the Tigers to put a superb pitching performance together with a nice offensive game, but that’s exactly what they did tonight. The offense showed up in support early with two runs in the first inning and went on to end the game with 13 hits and six runs scored.
Detroit has too much talent to wallow around the .500 mark for too long. Hopefully they can use a game like tonight to get into the groove and snap off a winning streak.
Matt Snyder is the editor of The Tigers Den. He can be reached on Twitter @snyder_matthew.