photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein
I’m going to lay it right out there for the slow folks:
JUSTIN VERLANDER THREW A NO-HITTER.
Read those words. Savor them. Revel in them.
Now go outside and scream them at your neighbors.
Don’t you feel like the world is a better place already? I know *I* do.
Let me tell you something. I have sat through two, TWO almost-no-hitters in recent weeks. The first one was Curt Schilling’s game, which he lost with two outs in the ninth to Shannon “there is a Playboy bunny with the same name” Stewart. The second one was the first game in the NCAA Super Regionals matchup between Michigan and Oregon State, which Zach Putnam pitched beautifully, but ALSO lost with two outs in the ninth. I am a veritable EXPERT on almost-no-hitters by now.
So let me tell you: when Verlander threw a fastball at 102 mph (gun inflation? maybe. I think it might be more or less accurate, though, and was juiced more with adrenaline) IN THE NINTH INNING, after he had already passed the 100-pitch mark… the game felt different from those other two almost-no-hitters. Everyone could feel it. Verlander wasn’t just still pitching; he was STILL DOMINATING.
Now, I may or may not have vomited in my mouth a little when that ball came to Neifi!!! Perez’s backhand, but the sea slug clipped it and tossed it from his knees, behind his back, to Polanco, easy as you please. And Polanco somehow sent it along to first for the double play to end the 8th. I thought that was a hit, that was ZE END, I was going to have to shed a wee little tear for yet another lost no-hitter, but NEIFI!!! PEREZ CAME THROUGH IN THE DEFENSIVE CLUTCH.
Read THOSE words. Savor them. O THIS WACKY WORLD WE LIVE IN.
Offense: also magical. Curtis Granderson’s 13th triple… what do you even say to that? What kind of triple-hitting/running pace is that? It is not a pace that anyone else in MLB is on right now. And most of them hit outside of Comerica… you just kind of have to gesture wildly at Granderson, all “THIS MAN HAS HIT 13 TRIPLES AND IT IS ONLY JUNE”. And yeah, that makes you look like a crazy homeless person, probably, but it’s worth it in order to properly express our awe at this fact.
Brandon Inge hit another homerun. People are going to start advocating breaking his toe every year from now on. Rod Allen thinks that the way he’s gingerly landing on it in the batter’s box now is keeping him from pressing, which is improving his timing. This is the Brandon Inge we know and love and defend to the death even when it makes us look like… well, whatever it is that I’ve looked like all season as I continued to staunchly defend him and his sub-.200 batting average.
But this was not a night for giving a brewer’s bottom about offense. This was a night about JUSTIN VERLANDER. And his NO-HITTER. Which he threw, you know.
Touching moments for those who didn’t get to see it on TV:
—(this is an edit, I forgot it the first time ’round, but it’s important so it goes up top in this here list) Major, MAJOR props to Rod and Mario for not mentioning the no-hitter. They would show the stats, with all the zeroes, and say “that tells the story…”, they would say that Justin had THIS many strikeouts and… oh, look at the board… and then drift off without EVER saying the word (phrase?) no-hitter.
I know some announcers will say it out loud because they think it’s their duty, they aren’t superstitious, whatever. And, to be honest, I’m not a superstitious person in most of my daily life. Even in most of my baseball-fan life, I’m not that superstitious. But when people mention a no-hitter, it drives me CRAZY. Absolutely bat-guano up the wall crazy. So I CANNOT thank Rod and Mario enough for treating this with the respect (and delicacy!) it deserved tonight.
–After Maggs drifted back to get that last out (heart attack much?), Pudge dashed up to the mound and power-hugged Verlander. Well, of course he did. That is the Pudge Rodriguez way. When the whole team came up to congratulate him, Pudge came back for another round of hugging, which was equally intense, and was followed by a series of rapid chest pats so hard that you could hear the thwacking through the camera.
–Verlander’s girlfriend (who is at least a head and a half shorter than him, adorable) ran onto the field, jumped up into his arms, and gave him a (disappointingly chaste) little kiss.
–Jim Leyland hugged him, lips compressed and, as Mario gleefully yelled, “with tears in his eyes!”
–After Verlander’s interview with the FSN dude, Todd Jones came running over in a cutoff sleeve tank (urk) and got Verlander right in the face with a shaving cream pie. Classic.
And, perhaps most importantly
THE SEAGULLS WERE BACK.
Last time they confined themselves to the outfield. This time they were all over the outfield, and the infield, and all the foul territory around the field. There was one that kept pacing back and forth behind the batter, and as each new batter came up you could watch him just going back and forth, back and forth. At one point the umpire had to tell everyone to pause because a seagull was between Verlander and the plate.
You would be watching a shot of the pitcher and suddenly a little blurry seagull head would pop up on the bottom of the screen. Seagulls fled at every flyball hit to the outfield, only to return moments later. Brandon Inge’s homerun ball nearly hit an indignant seagull as it cleared the wall. During Verlander’s postgame interview, there was a seagull pacing directly behind him. SEAGULLS EVERYWHERE.
I hereby declare them GOOD LUCK SEAGULLS, and may they grace every game from now on. I am going to go out tomorrow and blow kisses to the first seagull I see (which will be the second I step out the door; I live in a seaside town).
Seagulls + Justin Verlander = true love
This was Comerica Park’s first no-hitter and, if I remember correctly, the first no-hitter thrown by a Tiger since Jack Morris did it in 1984 (before I was BORN, holy freakin’ cats). Verlander had 12 strikeouts, a personal record for him and tying Bonderman’s record.
You guys. You guys.
JUSTIN VERLANDER THREW A NO-HITTER.
I’m not getting tired of typing it. I bet you’re not getting tired of reading it either.
Oh and also! Polanco has pushed ahead of Cano for now, but don’t think for one second that those rabid Yankee fans are going to rest on their pinstriped laurels. We must keep the pressure on! DON’T FORGET TO VOTE PLACIDO POLANCO ONTO THE ALL STAR TEAM, WHICH IS HIS RIGHTFUL PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE!