No no-no, but Justin Verlander still incredible

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Justin Verlander had to settle for a one-hitter in Detroit’s 6-0 win over the Pirates on Friday, but that hardly takes away from his incredible run.

– The 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner is now 5-1 with a 2.17 ERA and a major league-best 0.80 WHIP this season. He also took over the league lead in strikeouts by upping his total to 68 tonight.

– He struck out 12 batters for the sixth time in his career. Half of those starts have come in the last calendar year.

– It was Verlander’s 51st consecutive start of at least six innings, the longest such streak since 2000. Mark Buehrle had a streak of 49 six-inning starts in 2004-05.

Josh Harrison was the only Pirate to have decent at-bats against Verlander tonight, so it was fitting that he broke up the no-hitter with one out in the ninth with a line drive single off a 1-2 curveball. In all, Harrison hit three of the four balls that the Pirates got out of the infield in the game.

Of course, Pittsburgh is far from an offensive juggernaut — the Pirates rank last in the majors in runs scored and it’s not even close — but Verlander probably would have shut down any lineup tonight. With two already down, one gets the impression that it’s only a matter of time before he becomes the sixth pitcher in major league history with three no-hitters under his belt.

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.