Justin Verlander Flirts With No-Hitter, Detroit Tigers Hang On To Win 3-2
Odds are good that one of today’s starting pitchers might win the American League Cy Young award. Justin Verlander made his case for the pitching honor by no-hitting the Angels through 7 and 2/3rds innings. An errror by Verlander and another defensive boo-boo allowed two Angel runs to score in the 8th to make this a closer game than it should have been.
The Tigers scored all of their runs on home runs. Magglio Ordonez hammered a hanging curve ball from Jared Weaver for a two-run blast in the 3rd. Verlander was cruising and that looked like it might be enough. Then Carlos Guillen battled Weaver in a lengthy at-bat before belting a 3-2 pitch into the right-field bleachers. That made it 3-0 and Weaver and Guillen had some words as Guillen trotted around the bases. The home plate umpire warned Weaver and the Tiger dugout to try to keep tempers in check. Weaver proceeded to throw the next pitch over Alex Avila’s head and was ejected from the game immediately. That allowed the Angels to bring in a relief pitcher and give him as long as needed to warm up. That resulted in Verlander sitting for 20 minutes before taking the mound again in the 8th.
Erick Aybar led off the 8th inning with a bunt attempt that Verlander fielded cleanly and promptly threw into right field. Aybar ended up on second base on the error. After recording the 1st out of the inning on a goundout, Aybar reached 3rd on the throw. Peter Bourjos then hit a sharp grounder to 3rd baseman Don Kelly who came home with the play and put Aybar in a “pickle”. Aybar scored on the play after Verlander couldn’t handle the throw back home. Bourjos took second on the play. Bourjos would score when Maicer Izturis broke up the no-hitter with a sharp single to left, making it a 3-2 Tiger lead.
Jose Valverde got his 28th save in 28 attempts, and as usual made Tiger fans nervous wrecks. Valverde walked the leadoff batter, Bobby Abreu. Vernon Wells grounded to short and reached safely after forcing Abreu at second for the 1st out. Wells then stole second base to put the tying run in scoring position with just one out. Valverde then got Callaspo and Aybar to fly out to end the game. Tigers win 3-2. Verlander picks up his 15th win against 5 losses.
The Tigers are now 57-51 and still hold a slim margin over Cleveland and Chicago. Both the Indians and White Sox are playing this afternoon, so we don’t know at this point exactly how slim the margin is.
The Tigers enjoy a rare day off tomorrow before the hot-hitting Texas Rangers come to Detroit for a 3-game series.