Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander throws third no-hitter of career

Houston right-hander Justin Verlander threw his third career no-hitter, and first with the Astros, on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander tossed the third no-hitter on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Verlander struck out 14 and threw 120 pitches at Toronto. The only runner he allowed was Cavan Biggio on a one-out walk in the first inning.

Verlander had previously thrown two no-hitters in the majors, both while with the Detroit Tigers. He pitched a no-hitter at Toronto in 2011 and also accomplished the feat against Milwaukee in 2007.

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.@JustinVerlander is the first pitcher ever to throw TWO no-hitters in the same road stadium (Rogers Centre). pic.twitter.com/9Iqw2hSOzx

September 1, 2019

The Astros-Blue Jays game was scoreless entering the top of the ninth, but Houston plated a pair of runs to ensure Verlander would be credited with the no-hitter.

The 36-year-old Verlander leads the majors in strikeouts and innings. He tops the AL in ERA and is tied for first in the majors with 17 wins.

Verlander was ejected from his previous start shortly after a close call on a pitch against Tampa Bay.

He becomes the sixth pitcher in baseball history to throw at least three career no-hitters, joining Nolan Ryan (seven), Sandy Koufax (four), Bob Feller (three), Cy Young (three) and Larry Corcoran (three).

Some of the guys Ive idolized, Verlander said.

And it came after a series of near-misses over the years.

Verlander lost a no-hit try in the eighth inning late in 2011, had bids broken in the ninth in 2012 and 2015 and had another attempt spoiled last May in the seventh by Jose Abreu of the White Sox.

Ive come so close to the third one so many times, Verlander said.

On this afternoon, he brought it home. Verlander threw a season-high 120 pitches, mixing a fastball that reached the upper 90s mph with a sharp curve.

Verlander retired the last 26 hitters in a row. But he still needed help because the game was scoreless going into the last inning according to baseball rules, Verlander had to pitch a complete game to get credit for a no-hitter.

Thats when Canadian-born rookie Abraham Toro stepped up for the AL West leaders. The Astros newcomer hit a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth inning off Ken Giles that cleared the way for Verlander to complete the no-hitter.

Toro made a routine play on Bo Bichettes grounder to third base for the last out.

Verlander joked the 22-year-old Toro, playing just his eighth game in the majors, was in for quite a nice reward.

This was the fourth no-hitter in the majors this year. The last one was by the Astros, too, a combined effort from Aaron Sanchez, Will Harris, Joe Biagini and Chris Devenski against Seattle on 3 August.

Oaklands Mike Fiers and a tandem effort by Taylor Cole and Felix Pena of the Angels accounted for this years other gems.

With the crowd of 24,104 getting to its feet to begin the ninth, Verlander retired Brandon Drury on an easy grounder and struck out Reese McGuire.

After that second out, catcher Robinson Chirinos went to the mound for a quick visit with Verlander. The count went full on Bichette, who fouled off a pitch before hitting a bouncer to Toro.

Verlander took a couple hops toward first as he watched Toro field the ball, saw the throw on target and then began the celebration in the middle of the diamond.

Not bad for an ace who was ejected in his previous start. Verlander was tossed last Tuesday at home shortly after a close pitch didnt go his way against Tampa Bay.

It was Verlanders ninth career shutout. This was the 13th no-hitter for the Astros, including one by Ryan.

The Blue Jays were no-hit for the sixth time. Before Sunday, the last to do it was Seattles James Paxton, who became the first Canadian pitcher to throw a big league no-hitter north of the border when he beat the Blue Jays on 8 May 2018.

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