(Sports Network) - The Detroit Tigers try to follow up a historic outing by Justin Verlander on Saturday as they clash with the Toronto Blue Jays in the third game of a four-game set at the Rogers Centre this afternoon.
Yesterday Verlander came ever-so-close to recording the first perfect game in Tigers history, but instead he had to settle for the second no-hitter of his career as Detroit blanked Toronto by a score of 9-0. Now an even 3-3 on the campaign, Verlander eventually yielded a walk to Toronto rookie catcher J.P. Arencibia after the pair battled through a 12-pitch at-bat in the eighth inning. The 28-year-old right-hander quickly erased the Blue Jays' lone base runner on a double play to end the inning and then put the finishing touches on his masterpiece by fanning Rajai Davis for the final out.
The no-hitter for Verlander was the second of his career, following up the one he tossed against the Brewers back in 2007, and the seventh in club history. Verlander threw a total of 108 pitches and struck out just four.
"He was totally in control from the start. Almost perfect," said Detroit manager Jim Leyland. "He's got two (no-hitters) now and that doesn't surprise me. And it wouldn't surprise me if he gets another one at some point in his career. That's how good his stuff can be."
Gunning for his second straight win and the third in the last four outings today is Detroit hurler Brad Penny. The right-hander, who is a game under .500 on the campaign thus far and is dealing with a substantial 5.23 ERA through seven games, had one of his stronger outings on Tuesday when he allowed just one unearned run to the New York Yankees over six innings en route to a 4-2 win at home. Penny scattered six hits and walked two, but managed to come up with just a single strikeout.
Penny, who is now in his 12th major league season and pitching for his sixth different club, has a career record of 3-1 with a 4.10 ERA all-time versus the Blue Jays. While strikeouts have been somewhat rare so far this season for Penny, he needs just four more to reach 1,200 for his career.
While the Tigers have a savvy veteran on the hill today, Toronto is going with somewhat of an unproven commodity in Jo-Jo Reyes, who is just 5-17 in his career to this point. The left-hander is still waiting for his first win of 2011 and has not rendered a decision in any of his last three outings. Against the Rays on Tuesday the California native gave up just a single run on four hits and a walk, striking out four through six innings in what turned into a 3-2 loss for the Jays.
Reyes, who spent the first four years of his career in the Atlanta Braves organization over in the National League, will be making his first-ever start against the Tigers this afternoon.
In an effort to rebound from yesterday's non-existent offensive performance, Reyes will be trying to accomplish a feat that has been done only twice previously in major league baseball history: toss a no-hitter against an opponent that turned the trick against his ball club in the previous game during the same series.
In September 1968 no-hitters were thrown in back-to-back games during a series between two teams for the very first time when Gaylord Perry of the San Francisco Giants no-hit the St. Louis Cardinals, 1-0, at Candlestick Park on September 17, 1968. On the following day, Ray Washburn returned the favor for the Cards, winning against the Giants, 2-0. Believe it or not, the feat was repeated the next season when Jim Maloney of the Reds blanked the Astros 10-0 on April 30 at Crosley Field, only to have Don Wilson no-hit the Reds on the following night.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, no major league team has ever thrown back-to- back no-hitters against the same opponent, even though Willie Powell and Webster McDonald of the Chicago American Giants came close in 1927 when the former defeated the Memphis Red Sox by a score of 5-0 and the latter lost a no-hitter in the 10th inning the following day in a 2-1 setback.