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Justin Verlander loses no-hit bid in the ninth, settles for complete game shutout

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UPDATE: So much for that. Justin Verlander’s no-hit bid was broken up on a single by Josh Harrison with one out in the ninth. Harrison just stuck his bat out and the ball just managed to eek past the outstretched glove of shortstop Jhonny Peralta.

Verlander was given a rousing ovation by the Comerica Park crowd for his efforts before settling down to get Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen on ground outs to end it. He ended up settling for a complete game one-hitter as part of a 6-0 victory. The Detroit ace is now 5-1 on the year with a 2.14 ERA and 68/14 K/BB ratio over 67 1/3 innings.

9:13 PM: The no-no is still intact after Verlander struck out out the side in a dominant eighth inning. He got Casey McGehee looking and Nate McLouth and Clint Barmes swinging, giving him 12 strikeouts on the night. He’s still bringing high-90s heat consistently and even hit 100 mph in the inning according to the TV gun. Absurd.

He’s slated to face Michael McKenry, Josh Harrison and Neil Walker in the ninth.

8:59 PM: We could be witnessing a little bit of history tonight in Detroit.

Justin Verlander, who already has two career no-hitters, has yet to allow a hit over his first seven innings of work against the Pirates.

Verlander has issued two walks on the night, including Neil Walker in the first and Andrew McCutchen in the seventh. He has nine strikeouts, including a nasty breaking ball that which caught Garrett Jones looking to end the seventh and stranded McCutchen at second base. His pitch count is at 82, so he’s probably going the distance in this thing no matter what. The Tigers currently have a 4-0 lead.

Verlander is slated to face Casey McGehee, Nate McLouth and Clint Barmes in the eighth. If he can complete the feat, he’ll join Cy Young, Bob Feller and Larry Corcoran with three career no-hitters. Sandy Koufax had four and Nolan Ryan had seven.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.