So too was the possibility of the Jays getting a hit against Detroit’s Justin Verlander who twirled the second no-hitter of his career in pitching the Tigers to a 9-0 victory.
It was a performance that was as dominating as it would suggest and was the fourth that has been tossed against the Jays in club history.
Verlander ended his historic day in style by striking out Rajai Davis on a 2-2 pitch. As his teammates poured out of the dugout to mob him, Verlander seemed to be the least excited player on the field. He put that down to the fact it was his second no-no — the other came June 6, 2007 vs. Milwaukee — and that experience went a long way in keeping him calm and collected against the Jays.
“I felt fantastic, obviously,” he said in the joyous Tigers clubhouse. “I was extremely excited but being able to recall the last one and go through it, it was really able to calm me down. I was able to calm myself down a lot more because of having thrown another one.
“Obviously the adrenaline wasn’t quite as high. I wasn’t jumping around and stuff and a lot of that had to do with it was a strikeout and not a fly ball to the outfield so I didn’t have as much time to react but I’m still just as excited. It was fantastic.”
It was a performance that drew nothing but admiration from the excited and appreciative crowd of 23,453 as well as the Blue Jays themselves.
“He got ahead of hitters which is always key and he had a lot of different pitches working,” said second baseman John McDonald. “No one really knew what he was going to start us off with and he had a lot of different things to go to. He started going to his fastball as the game went on. It was a tough game for us.”
That’s an understatement.
Verlander came within one batter of perfection as the only blight on the card was a one out walk to Arencibia in the eighth. Ball four came on the 12th pitch of the at-bat, a fastball that was inches outside of the outside corner.
The call caused a massive boo from the crowd which was caught up in the moment.
It was the lone battle that Verlander wouldn’t win.
“After the first pitch I fouled off, I was pretty late on it and I said I need to get early and really be as easy as possible so I could be as quick as possible,” Arencibia said of the at-bat. “He made some good pitches that I was able to foul off and I knew he was going to come after me and throw his fastball at me once we got to a 3-2 count. I was able to foul off a couple of them and I felt like I was seeing it pretty good. He threw that one off the plate away.”
But there was no doubt from Arencibia that the pitch was off the plate.
“Like I said, I was seeing the ball pretty well and I took it right away and I felt it was a ball,” he said. “If they called it differently, I don’t know how much argument they would have got out of me, but obviously I knew it was a ball off the plate and it was a good battle.”
In reality, it wasn’t much of a battle at all.
It was a one-side massacre as the Jays were no-hit for the first time since the legendary Nolan Ryan did the deed back on May 1 of 1991.
“Obviously the story of the day was Justin Verlander,” Jays manager John Farrell said. “It was an outstanding and dominating performance against us.
“You hate to see it thrown against you, but as dominant as he was, the pitches that he made, never gave in in terms of the count, didn’t get predictable in fastball counts, yeah, it was one heck of a performance.”
The closest the Jays came to a hit occurred in the fifth inning with two out and it was Verlander who made the defensive play to keep the no-no in play.
Edwin Encarnacion ripped a one-hopper off Verlander that caromed over to the third-base side of the mound. The right-hander reacted quickly, found the ball and threw an off-balance one-hopper that first baseman Miguel Cabrera managed to hang on to and Encarnacion was called out — correctly — on the bang-bang play.
Farrell came out to argue the call to no avail.
“I saw him as being safe, yeah,” Farrell said.
They didn’t win that one either. For the Jays, it was that type of day.
Verlander made certain of that.