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.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.