With an out, Andy Dirks lined a knock into center. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder (sheesh, we thought we done with him) smacked back-to-back doubles, and it was quickly 2-0. The Pirates went down in order. Verlander has thrown 23 pitches in his two frames; Morton has tossed 24 in one. The Bucs might be a little nervous about not loading up on the bullpen about now.
Jhonny Peralta led off by rolling a single to right. That was taken care of when a jam job served to Ryan Raburn was bounced to short to start a 6-4-3 DP. Don Kelly went down on strikes, and it's on to the third. Pittsburgh went down 1-2-3; that's eight in a row for Verlander. Morton found his mojo, too, putting Motown away while K'ing Cabrera and Fielder.
Walker lined out to the right center gap, while Cutch and Pedro Alvarez went down swinging at off-speed stuff.
Delmon Young turned on a fastball tight and at the knees and airmailed 418' to the fans in left center to make it 3-0. Alex Avila got ahead 2-0 and drilled a heater into right for a knock. Brennan Boesch took another fastball up the middle. Morton's sinker, well, isn't sinking all that often. Peralta lined a curve to El Toro for out number one. Raburn grounded to third; the Bucs got the force at second. Kelly took an 0-2 curve low and off the plate and lined into right to make it 4-0. Even when Morton makes a pitch, the Tigers are all over it. The inning ended on a comebacker.
Pittsburgh went down quietly again in the fifth, as did the Tigers. The Pirate batters again touched first and jogged to the dugout in the sixth, although Josh Harrison drove a curve to left center, where Kelly made a nice running grab to keep the slate clean. With two away in the Detroit half, Peralta lined a knock to left and was stranded. Morton's velocity has been down a couple of ticks, but that may be helping the ball sink; all three outs this frame were hit in the dirt.
The Kid, with two good at-bats against Verlander already, was rung up on a pitch that was well low and away; guess the ump, CB Bucknor, has no-hit fever too (although he has called a generous outer zone against lefties all game). Cutch walked to become the Bucs' second baserunner. He got as far as second.
Chris Resop came on for Pittsburgh. Give Morton credit. He hung in without his good stuff and gave the club six innings. He gave up four runs on nine hits and a walk with four Ks after 92 pitches. Resop walked Kelly to open the Tiger seventh. With two away, Fielder dinked an infield single; don't see many of those from him. It cost a pair when Young roped one of the wall in center to plate the runners.
Jimmy Leyland brought in a couple of new glove guys in the eighth, like he needed them. Verlander struck out the side, touching 100 on his heater. Brad Lincoln took the bump for the Buccos, and Ramon Santiago shipped a fastball down the middle into right for a two-bagger. Peralta doubled to center; unsure if Cutch could run it down, Santiago only moved to third. Raburn struck out, as did Kelly and Dirks. Nice finish to a rough start.
Now the drama begins. Mike McKenry bounced a 3-2 pitch to short for the first out. Harrison, a notorious bad ball hitter, went up hacking. He fell behind 0-2 quickly, but a couple of pitches later blooped a slider off the plate up the middle beyond SS Peralta to end Verlander's no-hit bid. The Kid and Cutch bounced out, and the Tigers had a 6-0 win to open the series.
Give Verlander his props. He threw all four of his pitches over the black and was downright nasty tonight. But then again, the bottom five hitters in the Pirate order all ended the game batting under the Mendoza line. While that doesn't guarantee a no-no, it sure doesn't make a pitcher, especially of Verlander's caliber, shiver his timbers. And he didn't, striking out 12 and walking two.
AJ Burnett goes against Drew Smyly tomorrow afternoon.
- The Pirates were last no-hit on Aug. 14th, 1971, when Bob Gibson and Cards whipped the Lumber Company at TRS 11-0. Pops went down swinging for the last out. It was, surprisingly, the Hall-of-Famer's only no no, and he was 35 when he earned it. The Bucco no-hit streak is second-longest in MLB, and still barely intact. It was the second time in 39 games that the team has been one-hit.
- With Brad Lincoln throwing tonight, it appears that Kevin Correia will make his regular start on Sunday. That ends speculation that his last couple of outings may have cost him his spot in the rotation.