In vintage form, Verlander takes the no-no in the 8th

MINNEAPOLIS — Just when you think Justin Verlander can’t get dominant anymore, he does something to remind us why he’s one of the best pitchers of his generation.

Verlander continued his incredible start to the season in the Astros’ 5-0 victory over the Twins on Tuesday night at Target Field by carrying a no-hitter in the eighth inning before Gio Urshela broke it with a single field to right with a withdrawal. . Verlander finished with eight scoreless innings, walking two while facing the minimum 24 batters.

Losing five outs before throwing his fourth career no-hitter didn’t do much to dampen Verlander’s enthusiasm for how he’s pitching in his return from Tommy John surgery.

“I felt really lucky to even be in the situation,” Verlander said. “Urshela broke with a nice clean shot. Unfortunately I was [in this situation] many times before and if this has happened. I had some heartbreaking ones in the ninth inning. This one, I think, is one of those that you appreciate the fact [that] it’s a good outing and gave us a chance to win.

The Astros, winners of eight straight games, recorded four shutouts during their eight-game winning streak, allowing eight points overall.

Verlander, who threw 89 pitches, is 4-1 with a 1.55 ERA, .64 WHIP and .150 batting average in six starts. Those are phenomenal numbers for any pitcher, let alone a 39-year-old who had pitched just one game in the previous two seasons.

“A guy who has three [no-hitters] under his belt, when you get to the eighth, he’s six out and I thought he was going to get it for sure,” catcher Martín Maldonado said.

Verlander was so effective that he threw just 66 pitches in six innings and 76 pitches in seven. He knocked out Jorge Polanco to start the eighth before Urshela lined up a 95.1 mph fastball in the right field to break the offer without a hit.

“I have no regrets pitching this pitch,” Verlander said. “If you’re going to give it up, that’s kind of how you want to do it. Simple from the opposite field, nice shot from him, good throw from me. Pull your cap off and move on.

Urshela, who failed in his previous two at bats to go 0-5 for life against Verlander, said he wasn’t trying to shoot the ball.

“It was a good fastball, so I just tried to stay short of the ball,” Urshela said.

Verlander also got a lot of help from his defense. Michael Brantley made a nice dive into left field to deny Gary Sánchez a hit to finish first. Third baseman Alex Bregman barehandedly charged a roll from Urshela at second and kicked him out.

“[Brantley] hates diving, so I appreciate that he prepares me early,” Verlander said. “Bregman to the left side of the infield – a sharp ground ball, and he’s the only one there and he’s [playing] He was able to pick it up.

Perhaps the best defensive play, however, came in sixth. Gilberto Celestino walked with two out and tried to advance to second base on a ball that went out of the glove of Maldonado, who threw a dart at Jeremy Peña covering second for the out. The throw was timed at 85 mph.

“Really, his work behind the plate in general was fantastic,” Verlander said.

After throwing 101 pitches Wednesday against the Mariners for the first time since surgery, Verlander wasn’t going to top 90 unless he had a hit in the ninth. He said his next start will be on four days off, so it looks like the Astros are going back to a five-man rotation.

“I think we try to be really smart with my workload,” he said. “As we approach this next rotation, it will be the first time this year that we have tried to do a regular five-day rotation without [extra] Days off. It was kind of pre-planned, a bit of an unloading. Got to 100 throws on my last outing, I rebounded really well for that and getting ready for regular rest and getting my body used to that is the next and, for me, the last step. Not just to do it once, but to somehow be able to repeat five days [of rest] for multiple consecutive starts, that’s where I ultimately want to be.

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