(The Sports Xchange) - Justin Verlander lost his bid for a third career no-hitter on a leadoff double in the ninth inning and had to settle for a one-hitter as the Detroit Tigers beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-0 at Comerica Park on Wednesday.
Angels catcher Chris Iannetta lined a 2-2 pitch onto the chalk of the left field line as Verlander came up just shy of becoming the sixth pitcher in major league history to record at least three no-hitters.
“This has special meaning because of the way the fans were treating me,” said the 32-year-old, who walked two and struck out nine while facing one batter over the minimum.
“I knew they’ve wanted to see me back (to my old form), just as bad as I have. Really from the sixth inning on, it was unbelievable.
“It really gave me goose bumps coming off the mound in the seventh, the way they were reacting. It’s nice to hear that.”
The right-hander has been in a gradual decline since winning the American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards in 2011. He had a 4.54 ERA last season and started this season on the disabled list.
However, Verlander (2-6) showed major progress recently. He held opponents to one earned run or none in five of his previous six starts before Wednesday’s overpowering performance.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Detroit catcher James McCann said. “That’s literally as close as you can get — one hit that lands on the foul line. With all that being said, it was a heck of a night for him.
“It was a lot of fun, but it’s like having your heart ripped out there, being that close to a no-hitter.”
Prior to Iannetta’s hit, the only Angels to reach base were third baseman Kaleb Cowart, who drew a one-out walk in the third, and left fielder David Murphy, who received a leadoff walk in the eighth.
Both were erased from the basepaths by double-play grounders.
Verlander struck out five consecutive batters during the sixth and seventh innings, including the top of the Angels’ order.
“Over the last seven or eight starts, he’s kind of shown he’s still got Justin Verlander inside of him,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “Tonight was a little bit of an exclamation point.”
Verlander was supported by the long ball as Detroit (60-66) snapped a five-game losing streak.
Third baseman Nick Castellanos smacked a solo home run off Hector Santiago (7-8) in the second. First baseman Miguel Cabrera extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a two-run shot in the fifth and right fielder J.D. Martinez blasted his 34th homer in the same inning.
Santiago gave up five runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings for the Angels (64-62), who lost for the fifth time in six games.
Editing by John O'Brien