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Archive for Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tiger tosses no-no

June 13, 2007

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— Justin Verlander pitched the first no-hitter in Comerica Park history, mixing 100 mph heat with crazy curveballs to lead the Detroit Tigers over the Milwaukee Brewers 4-0 Tuesday night.

Verlander struck out a career-high 12 and got a huge assist from shortstop Neifi Perez, who turned a possible single up the middle in the eighth into an inning-ending double play.

The 2006 AL Rookie of the Year benefited from several other stellar defensive plays and worked around four walks in the Tigers' first no-hitter since Jack Morris in 1984.

Verlander trotted to the mound for the ninth to a standing ovation. He struck out Craig Counsell and Tony Graffanino before getting J.J. Hardy to fly out to the warning track in right field.

"I had way too much adrenaline, to be honest," Verlander said.

It was the second no-hitter of the season in the majors, with Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox doing it against the Texas Rangers on April 18. Boston's Curt Schilling came within one out of accomplishing it at Oakland last week.

As right fielder Magglio Ordonez caught Hardy's fly ball, Verlander threw his arms in the air. Catcher Ivan Rodriguez was already at the mound and hugged Verlander as the pitcher wheeled around.

"That ninth inning was amazing," Verlander said. "It was the best thing that ever happened to me."

This was the first no-hitter in Detroit since Nolan Ryan of the Angels did it at Tiger Stadium in 1973. Comerica opened in 2000.

Milwaukee was last no-hit on April 27, 1994, by Scott Erickson at Minnesota.

Verlander (7-2) had all of his pitches working, including a tantalizing changeup, in his second career complete game and first of the season. The 24-year-old righty finished with 112 pitches in the no-hitter.

"About the fifth or sixth you can't help but think about it a little, but you have to go out and pitch," he said.

"Everyone kept giving me high fives and nobody came and sat next to me."

Among those to congratulate Verlander after it was over was teammate Kenny Rogers, who once pitched a perfect game.

Plenty of other teammates had a much more active role than Rogers.

Verlander himself made a sharp grab, jumping to snare Prince Fielder's one-hopper for the first out in the seventh. Corey Hart then hit a liner and Ordonez made a sliding catch while running in.

The best play belonged to Perez. After Bill Hall walked for the third time, Gabe Gross hit a hard one-out grounder up the middle. Perez skidded to his left to glove it, but the force of the ball knocked him over.

Perez managed to flip the ball to second baseman Placido Polanco, whose relay ended the eighth. Verlander pumped his fist near the mound and was one of the first to congratulate Perez in the dugout.

"Neifi was right there," he said.

Brandon Inge homered and drove in two runs. Jeff Suppan (7-7) took the loss.

Verlander was 17-9 in helping the surprising Tigers reach the World Series for the first time since 1984.

Verlander set the tone early by striking out Counsell and Graffanino to start the game.

Milwaukee didn't get its first baserunner until Hall walked with one out in the third. But Verlander then struck out Gross, and got Counsell on a hard one-hopper that first baseman Sean Casey neatly handled.

Suppan almost matched Verlander pitch for pitch the first five innings. He only allowed two hits in that span and his only mistake was to Inge, who hit his 11th homer in the third.

Suppan allowed four runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings.

The Tigers made it 3-0 in the sixth on an RBI triple by Curtis Granderson and a sacrifice fly by Polanco. Inge hit an RBI single in the seventh.

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