Tigers witness history in the making
Teammates shy away from righty as no-hitter progresses
DETROIT -- Believe it or not, there may have been two Tigers who were lonelier than Justin Verlander during his no-hitter on Tuesday night against the Brewers.Everybody knows the rule about not speaking to a pitcher while a no-no is in process in order not to jinx him. But Mike Maroth and Chad Durbin didn't even have an opportunity to bother Verlander while he was in the process of making history. That's because they were away from the dugout charting the game from the television inside the Tigers clubhouse. "You don't know how bad I wanted to be out there on the field," Durbin said. "I was charting in here, watching. The last inning, we wanted to scoot our chairs closer to the doors. When he got the last out, we jumped out of there." Durbin and Maroth joined the rest of the Tigers in a mob scene on the mound after the Verlander completed the first Tigers no-hitter since 1984. They both knew Verlander had special stuff, even if they weren't watching the game on the actual playing field. "It was like a watching a kid in Little League who just dominates," Durbin said. "Everybody's just fouling balls off. It was a lot of fun to watch, even if I didn't watch a pitch live." Maroth, who will start on Wednesday, chose to chart the game with Durbin from inside because he had never faced the Brewers and wanted to pay extra attention to the game. He didn't have to remain inside since Durbin was the one officially charting the game. But he didn't want to disrupt any type of mythical karma or good luck Verlander was experiencing. "You get to the point where you don't change anything," Maroth said. "Everybody's in the same spot." None of the other Tigers wanted to disturb Verlander either. That proved difficult for the 24-year-old, who is one of the more social players on the team. He sat next to Omar Infante after coming off the field from the eighth inning, but Infante clearly wanted no part of a discussion with Verlander.
"The last inning I went to sit down next to Infante," Verlander said. "And he got up and walked away."Undaunted, Verlander tried to chat with his catcher Ivan Rodriguez entering the ninth to discuss how to approach the final three outs. The veteran catcher, who also caught current Tiger Kenny Rogers' perfect game in 1994, also knew to leave his pitcher alone. "I didn't talk to him, I just left him alone," Rodriguez said. "Then, in the ninth inning, he tried to come over and talk to me and I told him 'You know what, go away. Just do what you've been doing. You're fine. You don't have to change anything.'" Sean Casey had seen a pitcher come close to a no-hitter, though he was partially to blame for never seeing one during his 10 years as a Major Leaguer. He broke up a no-hitter with just two outs to go during his rookie year. "I got a hit off Andy Benes with 8 1/3 [innings] to break it up," Casey said. "I was proud I was on the other side tonight." Casey said the way Verlander works so quickly was one of the reasons he was able to complete the task. That included nice defensive plays from Brandon Inge, Magglio Ordonez and Neifi Perez. "No doubt about it. The way he works, how he works, it keeps the defense on their toes," Casey said. "Everything worked out the way it should have." The outfield didn't have to do much of that work though. Center fielder Curtis Granderson had just one putout, on the final out of the first inning. Left fielder Craig Monroe didn't field a ball the entire game and Ordonez had just two catches. "I remember back in high school when we had good pitchers go, you wouldn't have too much action out there," Granderson said. "It can definitely get a little slow and boring but not today. The quick pace of the game definitely helped and we scored runs. Definitely not like in high school." All-in-all, it was just a memorable night for Verlander, who is in just his second year in the Majors. Both Casey and Rodriguez likened the experience to playing in the World Series and the excitement was nearly an equal match "I think I was more excited than him," Rodriguez said. "When I saw the replay [of the final out], I see that [Ordonez is] on the warning track." "That moment when you see the fly ball go into his glove in slow motion, there's no greater feeling than that. I'm sure that he feels awesome; I feel great. I feel like I pitched a no-hitter myself."
Tim Kirby is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.