Falling a few outs short of another historical mark, Astros’ starter Justin Verlander shows no sign of being away for the game for two seasons.
For the eighth time in his career, Justin Verlander fell five outs short of what would have been the fourth no-hitter of his career, as the Houston Astros beat the Minnesota Twins, 5-0, Tuesday night.
He ultimately finished the night with eight innings pitched with one hit, two walks and five strike outs with only 89 pitches, lowering his ERA to 1.55 on the season.
Verlander is a no-question, future Hall of Fame pitcher. He has amassed every award under the sun. Yet, while he fell just short on his bid for the fourth no-hitter of his career, this particular night might feel like one of his biggest achievements.
If you hadn’t known the story, it would have been difficult to tell that Justin Verlander is only in his fifth start after a shortened spring training and 624 days away from the game. Opting to have Tommy John surgery at age 37, the odds were stacked against Verlander that we would come back at the same level he was in his very dominate 2019 campaign.
The now 39-year-old Justin Verlander has been able to defy the doubters, who questioned his heart, his health and his commitment to the Astros. A two-time Cy Young Award winner, Verlander entered Tuesday with a 3-1 record and 1.93 ERA through four starts.
While Verlander wasn’t overly dominate in the strikeout department tonight, he was still able to challenge opposing batters with his powerful 4-Seam Fastball. All night he maintained velocity of his fastball, averaging 94.7 mph and topping out at 96.1 mph.
He controlled the count with numerous first pitch strikes, enticing batters to put weak swings on the ball and letting the defense do their job. The right-handed starter was perfect through the first four innings of the game before allowing a leadoff walk to Jorge Polanco in the fifth inning. He was able to induce a double-play ball from Gio Urshela to escape that inning.
The most excitement on the base paths came after Verlander walked Twins’ Gilberto Celestino with two outs in the sixth inning. He was promptly thrown out on the base paths by Martín Maldonado after Celestino attempted attempted to advanced on a passed ball.
The only hit given up was to Urshela, who flipped a fastball on the outside corner of the plate to the opposite field for a single, ending what could have been a magical night for Verlander.
Verlander could make his next start either Sunday, May 15 at the Washington Nationals or Monday, May 16 at the Boston Red Sox.