Justin Verlander was dominant Sunday.
The only problem was, for eight innings, so were the Blue Jays.
Verlander's brilliant effort in Sunday's no-hitter, the third of his career, was almost for naught as the Astros failed to plate any runs of their own for the majority of the contest. It was Abraham Toro's two-run, opposite-field homer in the top of the ninth that set up Verlander's history in the bottom of the frame.
If the star of Sunday was Verlander, Toro at least gets an assist for making sure it mattered.
“Toro was unbelievable,” Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos said. “Guy from here, from Canada, having a chance to come in the ninth and do what he does. It was unbelievable.”
Of course, the focus belongs on Verlander, who not only threw the third no-hitter of his career -- putting him in a class with Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Bob Feller, Cy Young and Larry Corcoran -- but who also had one of the most dominant performances in history. The 36-year-old struck out 14 while allowing only a first-inning walk, throwing 120 pitches to complete the feat.
“The last one, 2011, was kind of the height of my pitching as a young man,” Verlander said. “You know, ’11 and ’12 went well, then ’13 and ’14 I had some injuries plague me a bit. The process of coming back is not easy. ... [My family] knows how hard I work behind the scenes, and I think that’s one of the things that they’re most proud of.”
Dominating is nothing new for the right-hander, who's now 17-5 with a 2.56 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 257/35 K/BB ratio in 29 starts. He leads the American League in innings pitched, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP, among other statistics.
When he got the final out and the team was celebrating on the field, Verlander made sure to find Toro and give him a big hug. Each needed the other's contribution to make Sunday special.
“I could not be happier for that kid," Verlander said. "Just an incredible moment for him, from Canada, being able to do that. … Such a special moment, and I’m happy I was able to celebrate with him.”
Lux Gets The Call From Dodgers
The Dodgers have seen the light.
Or, the Lux, rather.
The team is promoting 21-year-old top prospect Gavin Lux in time for Monday's game against the Rockies. Lux will start at second base.
“I think we’re all excited to see him,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s very exciting to see a young player who can play both sides of the baseball. Dynamic, organizational guy. To see his debut at home, we’re all excited.”
Lux earned the promotion with a monster year in the Dodgers' minor league system. Between Double-A and Triple-A, Lux has hit .347/.421/.607 with 26 homers, 76 RBI, 99 runs scored and 10 steals.
The timing of the promotion is also not a coincidence, likely. Just days ago the team lost Max Muncy, who has logged considerable time at the keystone this year, to a fractured wrist, creating the need for an infielder.
And it's not just a promotion for Lux to sit on the bench. Roberts said Lux will play regularly, primarily at second base but also some at shortstop to give Corey Seager a breather. The Dodgers have many options to fill out a lineup each day, with part-timers like David Freese, Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor capable of playing multiple positions, so Lux will fit into that puzzle.
The important thing, though, is that they've seen the light. You should, too.
Manaea Dazzles In Return To Mound
It's been a long road back, but Sunday was worth the wait for Sean Manaea backers.
The left-hander, making his first start of the year after undergoing left shoulder surgery last September, blanked the Yankees over five innings in a no-decision. Manaea gave up one hit and walked three while striking out five in the debut.
“Obviously, the last inning wasn’t great. Getting five shutout innings against [the Yankees] was huge,” Manaea said after the game. “I felt I put the team in a good position to win.
“It felt awesome to be back. Now, it was a long road back. It’s crazy how much has happened since last year. I’m thankful I went through this rehab process with an open mind. I just tried to work on things and get back into playing shape.”
Manaea had a terrific 2018 season before the injury, posting a 3.59 ERA in 27 starts before going under the knife. That included a particularly memorable start against the Red Sox in which he joined Verlander in the no-hitter club.
Sunday's turn was a reminder of that ability, and carried the promise that after nearly a year away he's feeling good and healthy for the stretch run. Get him while he's available.
National League Quick Hits: Yu Darvish was scratched from Sunday's scheduled start versus the Brewers due to right forearm tightness. Darvish has actually been dealing with the ailment for his past five starts even as he's mostly been dominant during that stretch. The Cubs expect him to be ready to start against the Brewers next weekend. Tyler Chatwood started Sunday in his place. ... Nationals activated LHP Sean Doolittle from the 10-day injured list. Doolittle will be eased back into closing duties with some low-leverage situations to start. The Nationals will continue to mix and match in the ninth inning until Doolittle is ready. ... Robinson Cano (hamstring) is on track to be activated from the injured list on Tuesday. Cano has made a quicker-than-expected recovery from a left hamstring tear and picked up a couple hits in his first rehab game Saturday. If all goes well, he will be back in the Mets' lineup on Tuesday. ... Luke Weaver (elbow) will throw a simulated game on Monday. How many pitches he will be allowed to throw will be determined by the Diamondbacks' medical team. "I want to see him let loose," manager Torey Luvullo said of the throwing session. Weaver has been sidelined since May with a flexor strain and it remains very much up in the air as to whether he'll make it back this season. Obviously, Monday will be a big test. ... Freddie Freeman went 3-for-4 with two home runs and five RBI as the Braves bested the White Sox 5-3 on Sunday. The 29-year-old is eyeing his first NL MVP trophy as he puts the finishing touches on what's been an impressive year even for a guy used to turning in impressive years, batting .301/.393/.580 with 38 homers, 114 RBI and 107 runs in 138 games this year. ... Brewers designated RHP Jeremy Jeffress for assignment. Jeffress made the All-Star team with the Brewers last season, but he's dealt with injuries this year and posted a 5.02 ERA over 48 relief appearances. He's currently sidelined with a hip injury and it's unclear when he might be ready to pitch again. ... Ty France hit a pair of home runs and had four RBI as the Padres doubled up the Giants 8-4 on Sunday. The good day doubled his homer total through 49 games, giving him 16 RBI and 12 runs scored on the year. The 25-year-old will remain a utility infielder for the Friars down the stretch.
American League Quick Hits: Carlos Carrasco allowed one run on two hits in a one-inning relief appearance against the Rays on Sunday. The results don’t really matter. Some stories are more important than the actual game itself and this was one of them. The 32-year-old veteran right-hander, who was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year, made his first big-league appearance since May 30. The Indians are going to be cautious with his workload and he’ll likely operate out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season. No matter what role he’s in, it’s fantastic to see him feeling healthy enough to be back out on a major-league mound. ... Twins purchased the contract of RHP Brusdar Graterol from Triple-A Rochester. Graterol is one of the better starting pitching prospects in baseball, but he's been used in relief lately and that's how the Twins will break him into the majors. The 21-year-old held a 1.92 ERA and 61/23 K/BB ratio over 61 innings across three levels in the minors this season ... Xander Bogaerts went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI to lead the Red Sox to a 4-3 win over the Angels on Sunday. The 26-year-old has now tied his career high with 103 RBI - with a little less than a month left to play - and his 31 homers are already a career best. It's going to go down as a career year in a lot of ways for Bogaerts when everything is said and done. ... Adalberto Mondesi went 4-for-5 with three stolen bases and a pair of runs scored in his return to the Royals’ lineup against the Orioles on Sunday. The electrifying 24-year-old switch-hitting shortstop slapped a season-high four hits and recorded his first three-steal performance of the year in an epic return after missing nearly seven weeks due to a subluxation of his left shoulder. Clearly, he's still going to run, which is a massive relief for fantasy owners counting on his stolen base prowess in the home stretch.