It's been ages since we've had a no-hitter/perfect game in MLB. What's it been? A week? Actually, it's been almost a whole week since Matt Cain's perfect game against the Houston Astros - the 22nd in MLB history; although it seems like there have been 22 just in the past couple of years. Let's not forget that number should really be 23, but a blown call at first base cost then-Tigers' pitcher Armando Gallaraga from joining the elite club in 2010. Apparently, the disappointment of not getting credit for recording that last out has weighed heavily on Gallaraga; he hasn't pitched effectively since that close call; in fact, he's not even with the Tigers, nor is he even in the major leagues anymore. Easy come, easy go, Armando.
I usually don't make these type of predictions, but it seems to me Justin Verlander is due for another no-hitter. He hasn't had one in over a year, for crying out loud! Of course, the Cardinals were just vicimized on June 1 by Johan Santana - the first time they've suffered that fate since Fernando Valenzuela no-hit them on June 29, 1990, at Dodger Stadium. But let's face it; the Redbirds are really in a funk these days, so it would be no surprise if they were held completely in check by Verlander tonight. Maybe even a perfect game, although that's a bit of a stretch. The Cards are a disciplined team at the dish; even though they strike out a lot, they also draw more than their fair share of bases on balls.
With all due respect to Santana, Verlander's stuff is far more imposing. How many pitchers can throw 100 mph fastballs, 90 mph change of paces, and mix in more than a few sharp breaking curve balls reminiscent of Bert Blyleven in his prime? The answer: Nobody.
The Redbirds have their ace going tonight - Lance Lynn, looking for win number 11. If he weren't facing Verlander, he might have a good shot at it. Not tonight, Lance. Maybe you'll get a no-decision; but shutting the Tigers out for a full nine innings is nearly impossible; at least it hasn't happened in 134 straight games, but who's counting?
To be honest with you; I'm trying to jinx Verlander by making this outlandish prediction; anything to shake things up for the struggling Redbirds. Unfortunately, I don't think my strategy is going to work.
Verlander is due for a no-hitter; MLB is due for a no-hitter; and the Cardinals don't seem to be hitting very well these days. This could be Detroit's perfect storm, tonight. Maybe even a perfect game? I'm sure Verlander would love to get into that club which Kate Upton oversees. Who could blame him? Tonight could be the night, Justin. For sure, you'll get no-hitter number three. No doubt about it.
***UPDATE: Verlander's no-hitter was broken up in the first inning by Cards' DH Matt Holliday, who prior to Tuesday night, was hitting under .150 as a DH in his career. Go figure. Verlander got an easy win, however, allowing just five hits and one earned run in 8 innings of work, as the Cards went down to defeat, by a score of 6-3 (2 of the runs the Redbirds scored were unearned). Lance Lynn had a tough outing, allowing a career high five runs, as his record fell to 10-3. Big deal. St Louis trails the Cincinnati Reds by 4.5 games, and second-place Pittsburgh by two games. For the record, St Louis trailed the Atlanta Braves by that same 4.5 game margin on September 11, 2011, in pursuit of the wild card berth; which they eventually nailed down, en route to the 11th World Series title in franchise history. It's hard to get worked up about such trivial deficits this early in the season. I'm just glad the Cardinals avoided that no-hitter on Tuesday night.