Justin Verlander loses no-hitter in eighth, Jered Weaver ejected

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3:45 p.m. EDT: It’s over, with the Tigers winning 3-2.  Jose Valverde replaced Verlander to start the ninth and walked leadoff man Bobby Abreu, but he bounced back to retire the next three batters.  Erick Aybar, who started the eighth-inning rally with his bunt, popped up foul to end it.

We’ll likely be hearing more about this one in a bit.  Mike Scioscia was tossed along with Weaver, and both manager press conferences could be tasty.

3:21 p.m. EDT: The no-hitter is gone and Detroit’s lead has been cut to 3-2 as the result of a Maicer Izturis two-out RBI single to left field.  Verlander may have lost his composure a bit, but much of the blame here needs to go third baseman Don Kelly, who didn’t take the easy out on Peter Bourjos’ grounder and who also contributed to botching the rundown.  Verlander should have been out of the inning.

3:17 p.m. EDT: After a groundout put Aybar on third, Peter Bourjos grounded to third baseman Don Kelly.  Rather than take the sure out, Kelly went home and put Aybar into a rundown.  Aybar, though, escaped what was a pretty ugly rundown from the Tigers when Verlander, who was definitely nudged by the baserunner, dropped the ball.  It’s 3-1 Tigers, but the no-hitter remains intact with one out in the eighth.  Verlander is now over 100 pitches.

3:12 p.m. EDT: Gotta love the drama.  Erick Aybar broke the unwritten rule by dropping down a bunt on the first pitch of the eighth.  It wasn’t a very good one, and Verlander had a play on him, but he threw wildly of first base for what was ruled, by Detroit’s official scorer, an error on the pitcher.

3:05 p.m. EDT: And this game has suddenly taken a dramatic turn.  Carlos Guillen decided to show Weaver up after a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh, and Weaver responded by throwing his very next pitch at Alex Avila’s head.  Fortunately, it sailed over Avila’s head.  Weaver was immediately tossed, as he knew he would be the moment he let the pitch go.

Now Verlander is going to have a much longer wait than anticipated headed into the eighth inning.

2:50 p.m. EDT: Verlander walked Abreu for a second time in the seventh inning, but he got through the frame without a hit.  He’s six outs away from another piece of history.

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Justin Verlander, who pitched his second career no-hitter back on May 7 against the Blue Jays, has held the Angels hitless through six innings Sunday.

Verlander walked Bobby Abreu in the fourth inning, but he’s retired the other 18 hitters he’s faced.  He struck out six and threw 76 pitches through the six innings.

Thanks to a Magglio Ordonez homer in the third, the Tigers are up 2-0.  Jered Weaver is on the mound for the Angels and has allowed just three hits himself.

If Verlander can do it again, he’d join Nolan Ryan (seven), Sandy Koufax, (four), Larry Corcoran (three), Bob Feller (three) and Cy Young (three) as the only pitchers with more than two no-hitters.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves