DETROIT — For once, Justin Verlander actually had to take a pause.
He was a strike away from history, with two strikes on J.J. Hardy, two outs in the ninth and no hits allowed. He had back-to-back pitches around 100 miles per hour before hanging a breaking ball. He was feeding off the crowd, which was roaring. He was feeding off of his teammates, who were on the edge of the dugout….
This was one of the most amazing games to listen to. It was clear that history was being made. Perez made a miraculous play in the eight to save the no-hitter. He backhands the ground ball that should have gone up the middle, and then he flips it over his shoulder to Polanco who is on the bag at second and throws to first for the double play. You MUST see this play.
This particular night, Verlander’s “A” game produced the first no-hitter by a Tiger since Jack Morris in 1984, and the first by a Detroit pitcher at home since Virgil “Fire” Trucks beat the Washington Senators 1-0 in May 1952. Three months later, Trucks no-hit New York at Yankee Stadium.
AP Photo/Duane Burleson
Verlander finished in commanding fashion, his velocity still around 100 mph in the late innings.
When the ninth inning rolled around, there was barely time for suspense. After Craig Counsell nearly wrenched his back swinging at a breaking ball and Tony Graffanino looked downright helpless in striking out for the fourth time, poor Hardy stepped into the box with the sound of 33,555 rabid Tigers fans ringing in his ears.As the TV cameras showed franchise icon Al Kaline applauding from a box upstairs, Verlander threw a fastball that registered 101 mph. Under the circumstances, Hardy did an admirable job simply putting the ball in play.