Heading into a May 7th game against the Toronto Blue Jays last season the Tigers were 15-18, and seven games behind the Central Division leading Cleveland Indians. According to fans the team was hitting poorly, needed leadership, and new management.
Enter Justin Verlander. The ace walked to the mound at the Rogers Centre, threw 108 pitches, struck out four, and finished with the second no-hitter of his career. The Tigers won their next six games, went 80-49 the remainder of the season, and won the Central Division by 15 games.
At the start of action yesterday the Tigers were 18-20, and four games back of the division leading Indians. Fans are raising the same questions, and concerns about this current Tigers team.
Enter Justin Verlander.
Verlander (5-1) threw 109 pitches, struck-out 12 Pittsburgh Pirates, and lost his third no-hitter with one out in the ninth inning. To say that he dominated the Pirates is an understatement, he destroyed them on the way to a 6-0 victory at Comerica Park last night.
It helped that the Pirates have four batters hitting under .200, and the major leagues worst team batting average. The Pirates are still technically a major league baseball team, but Verlander made them look like their AAA affiliate the Indianapolis Indians.
The Tigers offense started quickly with back-to-back doubles from Miguel Cabrera, and Prince Fielder leading to two runs in the first inning. The Tigers finished with 13 hits, and five doubles. Delmon Young had a big night going 2-4 with a solo home run, and three RBI’s. The only Tigers batter not to record a hit was Ryan Raburn.
Verlander appeared to be on his way to that third no-hitter after a ground-out from Pirates catcher Michael McKenry led off the ninth inning. Down 1-2 designated hitter Joel Harrison looked over matched until he stuck his bat out, and hit a weak liner into center field ending Verlander’s no-hit bid. The disappointment was visible on Verlander’s face, but he recorded the next two outs on three pitches to end the game.
Tigers fans will have to wait, and see if this near no-hitter is the turning point for the 2012 Tigers campaign. Verlander upped his record after a Tigers loss to 20-3 since 2009, and the team pulled a game closer in the division standings.
Game two of this interleague series is set for 4:05pm this afternoon. Drew Smyly (1-0, 2.31 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) takes the mound for the Tigers against fellow Arkansas native A.J. Burnett (1-2, 5.12 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) for the Pirates. It is also the annual Negro Leagues tribute game with the Tigers wearing the uniforms of the Detroit Stars, and the Pirates wearing the uniforms of the Pittsburgh Crawfords.
About the Author
Written by Jeremy Klumpp
I am a graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a degree in Electronic Media and Film. For two years I wrote a baseball blog, "Ground Rule Double," and have contributed to a book on the 1968 Detroit Tigers. If you want to read my non-sports thoughts head to jklumpp1.posterous.com.