BY RICKY LINDSAY, Staff Reporter
The Tigers needed relief going into their three game series against Pittsburgh, after the Minnesota Twins completed the sweep the previous day. Their relief came in the form of Justin Verlander, baseball’s best pitcher.
Run support wasn’t something Verlander had to worry about on this night. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder both had rbi doubles in the first inning, giving the Tigers and Verlander a comfortable two run lead.
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Delmon Young broke out of a small slump, homering in the fourth to extend the lead to 3-0. Two outs later, Don Kelly, who replaced the injured Austin Jackson in center field, hit an rbi single to score Alex Avila. Three innings later, Young hit a two rbi double to center field, extending the Tigers lead to 6-0.
Verlander dazzled the Pirates’ hitters from his first pitch, avoiding his usual first inning rust. Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen both had walks, having the privilege of being the Pirates’ only base runners through eight innings of domination.
Verlander, who took a no hitter into the ninth inning, had a fabulous game. He racked up 12 strikeouts with 109 pitches thrown, showing pure domination throughout the game.[/wpcol_1half]
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Opposing hitters looked like they had no answer offensively, flailing at most of Verlander’s pitches. As the adrenaline kicked in, so did his fastball intensity, striking out the side in the eighth inning.
The fans at Comerica Park roared as Verlander took the mound to finish his no-hit bid. With one out in the ninth, Josh Harrison hit a ground ball up the middle for the Pirates’ first hit, ending Verlander’s no-hit bid. Verlander got the next two hitters out, finishing the complete game, one hit shutout that included a standing ovation.
If Verlander was able to complete the no-hit bid, it would’ve been his third no hitter in his young, decorated career. It would’ve also been Verlander’s second interleague no-hitter, throwing one against the Milwaukee Brewers and current teammate Fielder in 2007. This was Verlander’s first one hitter of his career, coming close last year in the showdown against Angel’s pitcher Jered Weaver.[/wpcol_1half_end]
Friday’s game should be the stepping stone to get the entire Tigers team hot going into interleague play. Last year, Verlander’s no hitter in Toronto proved to be the step that got the Tigers over their slump, propelling them to a dominate season.