Entering Sunday’s matinee against the Indians, Justin Verlander was prepared to ink his name in the history books yet again. The Tigers’ right-hander was riding a 331-game streak of consecutive appearances with at least one strikeout — a streak so impressive, in fact, that it ranked sixth-longest among all MLB pitchers, tied with Curt Schilling’s own 331-game streak from 1993 to 2005. During what should have been Verlander’s tie-breaking 332nd game, however, the righty was tagged for nine hits and seven runs, failing to fan even one of 22 batters before getting pulled in the fourth inning. The streak was over.
According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the last time Verlander recorded a zero-strikeout game was on April 28, 2007. The 24-year-old hurler was fresh off of a Rookie of the Year award-winning season and his first postseason appearance with the Tigers. He didn’t look it that afternoon, however, handing the Twins five runs on eight hits in the first three innings. It was the third such start of his career to date, preceded by a seven-run implosion against the White Sox and an unorthodox eight-inning shutout against the Twins, both in 2006.
Following Verlander’s snafu on Sunday, the Tigers dropped their second consecutive game to the Indians, 11-8. A few zero-strikeout games every decade isn’t reason for concern, but it didn’t do much to improve Verlander’s pitching line, either. The Tigers’ ace currently holds a 4.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 4.6 SO/9 through 98 innings and has gone 5-5 in 17 starts this year.