Sunday, May 8, 2011

Stat Line of the Day: May 8th

J. Verlander (DET): 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K vs. Blue Jays
Manager Jim Leyland congratulates
Verlander on his 2nd career no-hitter
Less than a week after Francisco "9.13 ERA" Liriano threw a no-hitter for the Minnesota Twins, the Detroit Tiger's Justin Verlander tossed his second career no-no. This one was almost a perfect game, as Verlander didn't allow a baserunner until the eighth inning. He walked J.P. Arencibia on a borderline 3-2 pitch after 7.1 perfect innings pitched. The walk ruined the perfect game, but Verlander immediately erased the runner on a double play. He faced the minimum of 27 batters in throwing a complete game, no-hit shutout. He also only needed 108 pitches to do it, an average of 12 pitches per inning. Verlander was able to do that by pounding the strike zone, as 68.5% of his pitches were strikes. The Toronto hitters barely made any effort to work the count against the Tigers' ace, as Edwin Encarnacion and David Cooper went 0-6 on a grand total of 14 pitches. Without getting Verlander's pitch count up, the Blue Jays had no chance to see him tired or get a stab at the bullpen. Instead, Verlander bore down, threw his fastball consistently for strikes all night long (16 of 27 first-pitch strikes), and blew away the opposition.

Honorable Mention:

Z. Randolph (MEM): 21 points, 21 rebounds (8 offensive), 2 assists, 1 block vs. Thunder
Another huge performance from the Grizzlies' power forward Zach Randolph, who got 21 points and 21 rebounds in Memphis' come-from-behind victory over the Thunder in Game Three. Randolph was third in the league in rebounds this regular season, with 12.2 per game. During the postseason prior to yesterday, though, he had only been averaging 9.25 boards per game--perhaps because he has had to deal with Tim Duncan and Serge Ibaka down low. Last night, though, Randolph overpowered Thunder big men Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. He grabbed 21 rebounds, including eight offensive ones that he turned into six points. Randolph was at his best when it mattered most, pulling in five rebounds late in the fourth quarter as the Grizzlies eliminated a 13-point deficit. He even drew a big offensive foul from Russell Westbrook with 22 seconds left in overtime, effectively icing the game for the Grizzlies. Without Randolph's contributions down low, Memphis likely would not have come back to win this game; Z-Bo was fantastic down the stretch, though, with 21 all-important rebounds and some great defense.

Y. Gallardo (MIL): 8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 6 K vs. Cardinals
On almost any other day, Yovani Gallardo's eight shutout innings against the potent St. Louis lineup would have been the Stat Line of the Day. However, with Verlander's no-hitter and Randolph's 21-21 performance in a playoff game, the Brewers' underrated ace barely makes the column. What he did yesterday against the Cardinals was extraordinary, though, as he dominated a lineup with guys named Pujols, Holliday, and Molina. Those three went a combined 0-11 against Gallardo, as he held the Cardinals hitless for seven full innings. Leading off the eighth, Daniel Descalso, a career .240 hitter in 104 at-bats, finally broke up the no-hit bid. Gallardo got through the eighth inning unscathed, though, and he departed after the inning due to a high pitch count (118). Had he been able to complete the no-hitter, it would have been the first time since Jane 29, 1990 that there were two no-hitters on the same day. That time, Dave Stewart and the great Fernando Valenzuela each threw nine no-hit innings. Yesterday, Justin Verlander was able to do it, but Yovani Gallardo came up just short: eight innings, one hit. Still a pretty good start.

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