DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers almost made history on Tuesday night. The pitching staff, including the bullpen, had a perfect game through six innings and carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning. Backed by three key hits in the seventh inning, the Tigers won by the slimmest of margins, taking a 2-1 victory in the 10th over the Chicago White Sox.
Daniel Norris was perfect. He didn't even break a sweat and seven of his 11 non-strikeout outs were ground balls. It was beautiful poetry in motion and were he not on a pitch count, Norris would've carried on and cut through the White Sox lineup with ease. Alas, that wouldn't last. Sure, Buck Farmer got three easy outs in the sixth and that was nice. But along comes the bulldozer and ruined perfection.
Ian Krol needed just two pitches to plunk said batsman Adam Eaton. Let's not forget, though, that he got the next three outs without too much trouble and he kept the no-hitter intact. Doesn't make it any less sad to see, even if unavoidable -- because let's be honest it's better to lose a perfect game now than risk re-injuring a pitcher because he was left in too long.
You could get all bent out of shape with the perfect game no longer intact, but the wonder didn't end there. The bullpen (yes, the bullpen) didn't give up a hit in the eighth either. After Krol departed, Drew VerHagen came on in relief for the eighth and gave a perfect 1-2-3 inning to keep the no-hitter going. Unfortunately that's where it ended.
After retiring J.B. Shuck to lead off the ninth, newly anointed closer Neftali Feliz allowed a triple to Tyler Saladino, breaking up the no-hit bid. Three pitches later, Eaton singled to right to tie the game. He was later thrown out at second by James McCann, the young backstop's 26th caught stealing of the year.
Daniel Norris: Was perfect through five innings of work. He needed just 63 pitches and struck out four batters because of course he did.
Tigers offense in the sixth: At least they finally got around to it. They'd gotten five hits through six innings but grounded into two double plays and lined into another double play for good measure. In the seventh Detroit finally strung three straight hits together, the latter thanks to James McCann, and the Tigers took the 1-0 lead. That's all they got.
Rajai Davis: Smoked the walkoff hit for the Tigers in the 10th, a triple.
Ian Krol: It took two pitches for Krol to break up the Tigers' combined perfect game. He hit Adam Eaton on the second pitch of the seventh. He then proceeded to retire the next three batters ... but for heaven's sake everyone in the ballpark knew he was going to break it up and he did exactly that. We just didn't expect him to do it so fast.
Neftali Feliz: When you not only break up the no-hitter but allow the tying run, blowing the save, you're going to get a hiss. Guaranteed. It's not even the extra innings. It's that Feliz ruined the no-hitter and allowed the darn run.
Tigers offense except the sixth: They got eight hits in nine innings, stranded five runners on-base including two two-on situations. They got one dang run out of all that. Sure it's not in excess, but it's bordering on the insane in the last few days with the lack of run support.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- The Tigers' pitching staff nearly threw a combined no-hitter on Tuesday night. It would have marked the first in the history of the franchise and their eighth no-hitter in club history.
- Daniel Norris is the fourth starting pitcher in the last 100 years to throw five perfect innings without finishing a game, and the first since Bob Knepper in 1986.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: