Jeff Riger: Almost Perfect But Still Awesome!
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Something was different at the Rogers Center on this Saturday afternoon (May 7, 2011). The roof was open for the first time all season and it might be the last time. Why? Because of Justin Verlander who started the game retiring 22 Blue Jays before walking J.P. Arencibia on a 3-2 count during a 12 pitch at bat. After the walk, Verlander regained his composure and got Edwin Encarnacion to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to keep Toronto with the minimum of 24 batters coming to the plate through 8 innings. Of course when something special is about to happen in baseball, a pitcher needs help and Verlander got just that. In the bottom of the 5th inning, Encarnacion hit a shot right off of Verlander who then had to be bailed out by Miguel Cabrera scooping a ball out of the dirt at 1st base to record the out. Also in the bottom of the 6th, Rajai Davis hit a for sure single to the right side of the field before Cabrera snagged it out of the air while jumping at the last moment. Jhonny Peralta also had a nice pick of a ground ball from Yunel Escobar in the 7th to protect; at that point, what was a perfect game.
We fast forward to the top of the 9th inning. Verlander has faced the minimum with throwing just 98 pitching going. The first batter was David Cooper who popped out to Scott Sizemore. The 2nd hitter was the former Tiger John McDonald who hit a ball right past Verlander but Sizemore picked it up and threw to 1st for the 2nd out of the inning and 26th out of the game. So in order to make history, things were left up to Davis, already 0 for 2. After fouling off a pitch, Verlander threw a 1-2 pitch right past Davis for his second NO HITTER of his career!
Notice I did not mention the words “no hitter” throughout this entire blog as I was watching and typing at the same time. After screaming at the top of my lungs, I am back at the keyboard to tell you that it’s official! A NO HITTER for Verlander! He no hit the Brewers walking 3 batters back on June 12th, 2007 at Comerica and on today he does the same to the Blue Jays in Toronto walking just Arencibia for another NO NO. Back in 2007 against Milwaukee, Verlander threw 112 pitches, today he threw 108. In case you were wondering, this is the first time since 1991 that Toronto has been no hit, the last time coming against Nolan Ryan.
Listen to the final call below!!! WOW!