Justin Verlander can no longer join an exclusive club with Don Larsen and Roy Halladay, but he’s still on the verge of leading his team to the ALCS.
Verlander’s no-hit bit ended with two outs in the seventh inning after Yoenis Cespedes hit a hard grounder past shortstop Jhonny Peralta and into center field. Having Jose Iglesias in the game there probably wouldn’t have helped him. With his chance at the no-hitter in the rear view mirror, Verlander quickly bounced back and struck out Seth Smith swinging, so he now has seven scoreless innings under his belt in this decisive Game 5.
The Tigers lead the Athletics 3-0 going into the top of the eighth inning at O.co Coliseum. Oakland has six more outs to keep their season alive.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.