DETROIT — Yes, the Pirates were fully aware of what was going on as Justin Verlander chased a no-hitter tonight. And, yes, they talked non-stop in the dugout about trying to break it up, even as they paused from time to time to marvel at what Verlander was doing. “In the dugout, we all know what’s at stake,” said Josh Harrison, who broke it up with a single with one out in the ninth. “They know what’s at stake, too. At the same time, you’re like, yeah, this guy’s throwing a great game, but you can’t give him too much credit because you still have to face him.”
Verlander alternated between overpowering the Pirates with his upper-90s fastball and mystifying them with breaking balls that danced on the black. “Yes, he was nasty,” said Garrett Jones, who struck out in all three at-bats. “The curve was working. He was throwing it down, on the corners and hitting spots. And he was pumping up (his fastball) later in the game. Pretty good.”
Over the first eight innings, Verlander yielded just a pair of full-count walks — one to Neil Walker in the first inning, the other to Andrew McCutchen in the seventh. In between the two walks, Verlander ravaged the Pirates’ lineup, getting eight of his 12 strikeouts in the stretch. Walker thought he drew a leadoff walk in the seventh, as a 3-2 fastball from Verlander was low and, seemingly, out of the zone. But umpire C.B. Bucknor called strike three, which Walker vehemently protested. Manager Clint Hurdle ran out to the plate to send Walker back to the dugout before Bucknor could consider an ejection.
»»» Question: What do you think, Pirates fans, about this postgame quote from Hurdle? “I always wanted to be part of Tigers history since I was a little kid. I almost was. It would have been bittersweet. But, for my money, that’s a beautiful thing to watch.” Keep in mind, Hurdle grew up Michigan and idolized Al Kaline and Ernie Harwell. Is Hurdle required to throw his emotions and his roots out the door when he puts on that black-and-gold jersey?