There’s seemingly no end to the list of Justin Verlander’s accomplishments, and on Sunday, he began working toward another. The Astros ace crafted his third career no-hitter against the Blue Jays, working with a pitch count of 120 and striking out 14 of 28 batters.
Verlander’s perfect game attempt didn’t last long. He struck out Bo Bichette to kick off the bottom of the first inning, then issued a five-pitch walk to Cavan Biggio in the next at-bat. From there, however, the strikeouts began to roll in: two in the first, two in the second, one in the third, two in the fourth, another in the fifth, sixth, and seventh, and three in the eighth. Unsurprisingly, he surpassed the 250-strikeout threshold after whiffing Justin Smoak in the fourth, marking the fifth time he’s passed that milestone in his major-league career to date.
While the Blue Jays didn’t quite match Verlander’s skill on the mound, they still managed to hold the Astros scoreless through eight. Aledmys Díaz notched the first hit of the afternoon on a leadoff double in the second, while Yordan Álvarez and José Altuve came back with base hits in the seventh and eighth. In the ninth, powered by an Alex Bregman double, rookie third baseman Abraham Toro launched a two-run homer off of Ken Giles to give the Astros a much-needed lead.
Verlander came back in the ninth with another pristine performance, retiring Brandon Drury on a groundout and whiffing Reese McGuire on a 1-2 slider. For his final out of the afternoon, he fittingly faced off against Bo Bichette one more time, working a full count against the rookie shortstop before inducing a game-ending groundout to third.
Verlander’s performance was the third of its kind since he tossed a no-hitter against the Brewers in 2007 and the Blue Jays in 2011. He’s also the first Astros pitcher to record a no-hitter since August 3, when Houston’s Aaron Sanchez, Chris Devenski, Will Harris, and Joe Biagini combined for a no-no against the Mariners. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, had not been on the losing end of a no-hitter since last May, when they were blanked by then-Mariners hurler James Paxton.