Gio Urshela breaks Justin Verlander’s shot for fourth no-hitter

MINNEAPOLIS — After two frustrating years, Astros ace Justin Verlander was uncertain about his future in baseball. The two-time Cy Young Award winner has pitched just one game in 2020 and 2021 combined, missing all of last season after Tommy John’s surgery.

Verlander is back to his old self – just like that guy with all those no-hitters.

Verlander missed his fourth no-no by five outs because of a former Yankee but still faced the minimum in eight innings, and Houston beat the Minnesota Twins 5-0 on Tuesday night for its eighth straight win. .

“The fact that the game may be ripped out under you makes me appreciate being here, playing with my teammates, shooting well, all of that,” Verlander said.

Twins third baseman Gio Urshela picked right field with an out in the eighth to end Verlander’s offer. The 39-year-old right-hander, in his first season back from Tommy John surgery, ended the inning by forcing Royce Lewis into a double play.

Verlander was in contention to tie Sandy Koufax for second on the career no-hitter list. Nolan Ryan holds the record with seven.

Former Yankee Gio Urshela celebrates with the coach on the Twins’ first baseman after stopping Justin Verlander’s no-hitter attempt (right).
Getty Images; PA

“Unfortunately I’ve been here many times before and this happened. I had some heartbreaking ones in the ninth inning,” Verlander said. “This one I think is just one of those you appreciate, it was a good outing and gave us a chance to win, and we did it.”

Tuesday’s outing took Verlander to 4-1 with a 1.55 ERA in six starts to continue his strong start to the 2022 season.

“This guy is a horse,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “When he throws, the guys stay alert. He recovers the ball quickly. He doesn’t mess around on the mound, so you keep the defense strong when you do that.

Verlander struck out five and walked two on 89 throws. Blake Taylor pitched the ninth for Houston.

Baker said Verlander was on a 90-pitch limit, but added they could have extended that if Verlander had gone eight innings without a hit.

Verlander was perfect for four innings before allowing a first walk to Jorge Polanco in the fifth. Verlander asked Urshela to take advantage of a double play a pitch later to pull Polanco out.

The right-hander walked Minnesota’s No. 9 hitter Gilberto Celestino in the sixth, but Celestino was then ejected at second base by catcher Martín Maldonado – one of several solid defensive plays supporting Verlander’s performance.

“The no-hitter was getting pretty deep in the game and he was able to make a great play, turn and throw the guy to second trying to get forward,” Verlander said of Maldonado. “Really, his work behind home plate was fantastic.”

Jeremy Peña drove in the first two innings for the Astros. Alex Bregman also had two RBIs, including a double left in the fifth that led Jose Altuve.

Twins starter Joe Ryan (3-2) struggled to find the strike zone. The right-hander walked one in each of his five innings and allowed four runs.

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