DETROIT, MI - MAY 18: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the fifth inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Comerica Park on May 18, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Josh Harrison broke up Justin Verlander's no-hitter with one out in the ninth by poking a breaking ball up the middle for a single. Other than that, what can you say? An hour ago, I was sitting at a bar, explaining to my brother, who's more of a football guy, how Verlander is one of the best starting pitchers in baseball, but that only gave the Tigers a 70 or 75 percent chance (I was spitballing, of course) of beating the Pirates and their terrible offense. But every so often, there's a perfect storm, a time when everything works out in practice just as you feared it would when you wrote it down on paper, and when it comes, what are you going to do? Send Clint Barmes to the plate and hope for the best?
Verlander struck out 12 Pirates batters, who looked helpless against him all evening long. It was a perfect match of a pitcher capable of being dominating with an offense that can easily be dominated. Barmes struck out twice. Garrett Jones whiffed three times, and Pedro Alvarez twice.
The game felt like it was over almost as soon as it had begun. Andy Dirks singled off Charlie Morton with one out in the first, and then Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder followed with RBI doubles. A two-run lead for Justin Verlander against the Pirates ... I hate to keep returning to the same point, but that's really what it comes down to. The Tigers got a bunch of offense from later on, but I doubt there was anyone watching the game who actually felt like it mattered.
Anyway, the Pirates still haven't been no-hit since 1971, and yet it seems like they narrowly avoid a no-hitter about every two weeks. It's incredible that it's been 40 years since that's happened to them.
By the way, Brad Lincoln pitched in the eighth, so don't expect Kevin Correia to go anywhere anytime soon -- it looks like Correia will still be in the rotation.
UPDATE: In the comments, Bucdaddy remembers the 2012 opening game against Roy Halladay and the Phillies. In that game, Halladay gave up two hits to start the bottom of the first inning, then didn't give up another hit after that. (Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth.) This time it was nearly the opposite, with Verlander keeping the Pirates hitless until the ninth. It truly is amazing that the Pirates keep coming so close to being no-hit without ever actually having it done to them.
UPDATE: Marcbenning in the comments: