Verlander loses no-no in 8th in wild gameJul 31, 2011 - 10:27 PM Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander is capable of throwing a no-hitter every time he takes the mound.
Every so often he does -- and sometimes he's just close.
Verlander carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Angels on Sunday before it unraveled in a bizarre series of plays that culminated in Maicer Izturis' RBI single with two outs.
The Tigers won the game, 3-2, to split a four-game series.
An inning before Verlander's no-hitter was broken up, Angels starter Jered Weaver came undone and was ejected for throwing over the head of a batter, risking a brawl while his counterpart had a no-hitter intact.
Indeed, baseball rules went on etiquette safari more than once in this one.
Near-no hitters have rarely been this interesting.
Verlander struck out nine in the game and allowed just two baserunners through seven innings -- both walks to Bobby Abreu. He committed a throwing error after Erick Aybar tried to break up the no-hitter with a leadoff bunt in the eighth inning, a frowned-upon tactic by baseball's unwritten rules.
"I was very surprised," Verlander said. "From a pitching standpoint, that's bush league."
Aybar later scored on a botched rundown by the Tigers between third base and home -- with Verlander dropping a hasty throw near the plate. Perhaps rattled, Verlander gave up Izturis' base hit two batters later.
Verlander threw his second career no-hitter May 7 in Toronto, when he came within an eighth-inning walk of throwing Detroit's first perfect game. He also tossed a no-hitter against Milwaukee on June 12, 2007.
His chances of twirling no-no No. 3 on Sunday were almost derailed by two showboating teammates -- and a hot-headed response from Weaver.
First, Weaver was annoyed by the way Magglio Ordonez admired a two-run homer in the third inning. He jawed with the next batter, Miguel Cabrera, on the way to the dugout after Cabrera popped out.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland believed, at first glance, that Ordonez wasn't showboating but was waiting to see if his blast to left field stayed fair.
"I gotta look at it," Leyland said.
Later, Carlos Guillen flipped his bat and trotted slowly to first base after hitting a solo homer to make it 3-0 in the seventh, eying Weaver down the line.
The next batter, Alex Avila, got a fastball over his head and Weaver was ejected.
When all was said and done, Verlander (15-5) escaped further trouble to throw a one-hitter and become MLB's second 15-game winner this season after CC Sabathia of the Yankees.
Abreu walked again off Jose Valverde in the ninth, but the Detroit closer got three straight outs for his 28th save.
Weaver (14-5) was also going for win No. 15 and was good enough to get the win on most days. He allowed four hits -- including the two homers -- and a walk while striking out eight. It was his first loss in 13 starts (8-1).
Verlander sparkled with the usual mix of devastating pitches. In one short series during the sixth inning, he hit 100 mph on a fastball then threw an 82 mph curveball on the next pitch that broke several feet and froze Angels catcher Jeff Mathis for a strikeout.
While walks to Abreu with two outs in the fourth and one out in the seventh ensured Verlander wouldn't be perfect, it was Aybar's leadoff bunt in the eighth that threw a wrench in the pitcher's gem.
Verlander fielded the ball in front of the mound and threw wide-left to first base -- an obvious error that sent Aybar to second base. He went to third on Mark Trumbo's ground out, then scored after Peter Bourjos hit a ball to third baseman Don Kelly.
Kelly threw home, catching Aybar in a rundown that eventually fell apart when Kelly chased the runner down the line and shorthanded a throw that Verlander couldn't handle. It was unlikely Verlander would have been able to apply a clean tag anyway.
After striking out Howie Kendrick, Verlander threw a changeup that Izturis roped into shallow left field to break up the no-hitter and make it 3-2. Verlander struck out the final batter he faced, getting Torii Hunter to swing at a 101 mph fastball.
"That's the best performance I've ever seen him put on," said Hunter. "The guys was hitting 101 in the [eighth] inning on the outside corner -- painting it. Today he just pitched."
Verlander threw 79 of his 114 pitches for strikes. Weaver's ratio was 75- of-111.
"Both guys pitched well. You knew it was going to come down a guy not hitting too many of his spots," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "We scratched to get back in the game."
Leyland disagreed with his pitcher's view of Aybar's bunt attempt in the eighth, calling it "good baseball" while defending the play.
"They're a good team with great speed and they're trying to win a pennant just like we are," he said.
Ordonez hit his fourth homer of the season, while Guillen got his second...Weaver was unbeaten since losing four straight starts from May 2-18. He's given up homers in two straight games after going seven straight without allowing one...Angels pitcher Ervin Santana threw a no-hitter against Cleveland on Wednesday...Ordonez was replaced by Andy Dirks in right field to start the seventh inning...The Angels went 6-4 on a 10-game road trip.
- LOS ANGELES: 2
Jul 31 3:44 PM
- Maicer Izturis single to left scored Peter Bourjos with two out. Runner on second with two outs and Torii Hunter due up.
Angels 2, Tigers 3 Top 8, 2 OutsJul 31 3:23 PM
- Peter Bourjos fielder's choice to third scored Erick Aybar with one out. Runner on second with one out and Jeff Mathis due up.
Angels 1, Tigers 3 Top 8, 1 OutJul 31 3:20 PM
- Carlos Guillen two-out, solo Home Run (2) to right. Alex Avila due up.
Angels 0, Tigers 3 Bot 7, 2 OutsJul 31 3:00 PM
- Miguel Cabrera popped out to first to end the inning.
Angels 0, Tigers 2 End 3Jul 31 1:56 PM
- LOS ANGELES: 0
Top 1, 1 Out
Jul 31 1:08 PM
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