Tigers ace Justin Verlander did a number of impressive things over the course of his nine-inning no-hitter Saturday in Toronto. He threw 74 of his 108 pitches for strikes, induced 12 groundball outs, and issued just one walk to the 27 batters that he faced.
But the most impressive feat of the historical outing was a 100 mph fastball that Verlander delivered to final batter Rajai Davis with two outs in the ninth inning. It was his 106th pitch and the third-to-last offering of the afternoon. Davis fouled it off before whiffing on a slider two pitches later.
It wasn’t the only time Verlander was caught pushing the radar gun to its limit. According to MLB.com’s Gameday application, which uses the trustworthy Pitch-F/x system, the right-hander from Richmond, Virginia also hit 100 mph in the seventh and eighth innings. He topped out at 101 mph.
Possessing triple-digit velocity isn’t necessary for big league domination. Francisco Liriano is averaging 92.1 mph on his fastball this season and he threw a no-no just a handful of days ago. Mark Buehrle, who rarely tops 88 mph, threw one in July of 2009 and April of 2007. But that 100 mph fastball that Verlander delivered today with the Rogers Centre crowd wavering on who to root for is an indication of the kind of arm strength and clean mechanics that go along with being one of the most lethal pitchers in the game.
Verlander is one of three active pitchers with multiple no-hitters. The others: Buehrle and Roy Halladay.
The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.
Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.
The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.
After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.
Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:
The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.
The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.