Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander threw a no-hitter Sunday against the host Toronto Blue Jays, becoming one of just six major league pitchers with three or more no-hitters.
After walking Cavan Biggio with one out in the first inning, Verlander (17-5) retired 26 in a row, with rookie Bo Bichette grounding out to third baseman Abraham Toro to end the game. He struck out 14.
Entering the ninth inning, the game was a scoreless tie, with four Blue Jays pitchers holding the Astros to just four hits. The Astros then took a 2-0 lead in the top of ninth inning on a two-run home run from rookie Toro.
“Man, I can’t even put it into words. I’ve been so close to the third one so many times. It just didn’t happen,” Verlander said on the AT&T SportsNet broadcast. “Man, tonight Abraham Toro came up with a huge homer. He was able to make the last out. Ball is in play, you’re just hoping it’s an out, that’s it. Make an out, make an out, make an out. Good throw, good throw, good throw. Let’s celebrate.”
The 36-year-old Verlander’s most recent no-hitter of his 15-year career came in Toronto on May 7, 2011, when he was still with the Detroit Tigers. He becomes the first pitcher to no-hit a team twice in its own stadium.
The eight-time All Star and 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner threw his first no-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers on June 12, 2007.
He joins Larry Corcoran, Cy Young and Bob Feller in the club with three no-hitters. Sandy Koufax had four, and Nolan Ryan seven.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know the list of guys who have thrown three instead of two gets pretty small,” Verlander said. “Some of the guys I idolized. It’s a special moment. I’m so happy to be able to celebrate this with my teammates. ... Other than a World Series and winning championships, these team victories like this are few and far between. I’m going to enjoy this one.”
Verlander entered Sunday leading the AL in ERA (2.69), innings (184) and second in wins and strikeouts (243).