Tigers no-hitter history

Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers pitchers have thrown eight no-hitters over the storied history of the franchise. From an ace who stamped the Tigers’ rotation for the better part of 13 years in Justin Verlander to an aging pitcher who could have easily not been playing for Detroit on the day of his no-no, history has chosen a wide array of throwers to exalt.

MLB.com takes a look back at every no-hitter thrown in Tigers franchise history.

May 18, 2021: Spencer Turnbull

Ten years after Justin Verlander tossed the last Tigers’ no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays, Spencer Turnbull made history of his own against the Mariners.

Turnbull was nearly perfect, allowing just two baserunners via walk. Turnbull also struck out nine batters during his performance. It was the first complete game of his career, and he had not pitched into the eighth inning before.

Jeimer Candelario was key in helping Turnbull preserve the no-no, making a sliding stop on a hard-hit ball to third and recovering in time to nab Mitch Haniger at first to lead off the seventh inning. He also drove in two runs and scored twice to ensure the Tigers took home the victory.

The 28-year-old righty’s masterful performance was the fifth no-hitter of 2021 and the second of the year thrown against Seattle.

May 7, 2011: Justin Verlander

Verlander threw his second no-hitter four years after his first no-hitter, although it was less typical for Verlander, who struck out only four batters. He still kept his pitch count impressively low at 108 pitches.

Edwin Encarnacion almost ruined the no-hitter in the fifth when he smashed a liner off Verlander’s right arm. The ball trickled toward the foul line on the left side. Verlander raced, grabbed the ball and threw a one-hopper to Miguel Cabrera, who scooped the ball for a close out. Cabrera played a key role again the next inning when Corey Patterson lined a ball that Cabrera had to leap to catch.

This one was agonizingly close to being a perfect game. With one out in the eighth, rookie J.P. Arencibia took a 100-mph fastball on the outside corner to draw a full-count walk. It was the Blue Jays’ only baserunner of the day.

“Right out of my fingertips, I knew it was just a hair outside and it was,” Verlander said after the game. “It was a ball.”

In the ninth inning, with 23,453 people standing and cheering in Rogers Centre, Verlander fanned Rajai Davis for the final out. Verlander won an MLB-best 24 games that season and won the American League Most Valuable Player Award and Cy Young Award.

June 12, 2007: Justin Verlander
Tigers 4, Brewers 0

Verlander collected his first no-hitter in his second full season with the Tigers. He struck out a career-high 12 batters and threw 112 pitches. It was the first no-hitter thrown at Comerica Park.

The performance became what would be recognized as a typical Verlander outing. He recorded at least one strikeout in every inning but the eighth, overpowering hitters with a fastball that he got up to 102 mph.

The most serious bid to break up the no-hitter came in the seventh inning. Corey Hart hit a line drive to right, forcing Magglio Ordonez to sprint in and make a sliding catch to get the first out of the inning. In the eighth inning, with one on and one out, Gabe Gross hit a weak grounder up the middle. Shortstop Neifi Perez, with his back to the bag, flipped the ball to Placido Polanco to start the double play.

“It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Verlander said after the game.

Verlander went on to finish that season 18-6 with a 3.66 ERA.

April 7, 1984: Jack Morris
Tigers 4, White Sox 0

Jack Morris, wearing No. 47, threw his no-hitter against the White Sox on April 7, or 4/7. It became the earliest in the season that a no-hitter had been thrown.

Like Jim Bunning’s no-no in 1958, this was another instance of a spectacular feat coming with mostly routine plays. The New York Times noted that right fielder Kirk Gibson and first baseman Dave Bergman (inserted as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning) made some tricky plays, but the other outs were standard. Gibson raced to the right-field wall to take away a hit from Rudy Law in the first, and Bergman robbed two potential line-drive hits in the seventh and eighth innings.

After breezing through the first nine outs, Morris became erratic. He almost walked as many batters (six) as he struck out (eight). But he never gave up that hit.

“You know, you need a lot of luck to pitch a no-hitter or even a shutout,” said Morris, according to the New York Times. “I’ve had better stuff before.”

Morris took the mound in the ninth to a standing ovation from the 24,616 fans at Comiskey Park that day. After issuing a two-out walk, Morris struck out White Sox left fielder Ron Kittle to cement his place in history.

July 20, 1958: Jim Bunning
Tigers 3, Red Sox 0

Fenway Park is one of the least ideal places for a pitcher to go after a no-hitter. And the 1958 Red Sox with Ted Williams, Frank Malzone, Jackie Jensen was one of the least ideal lineups to try it against. But there was Bunning, 26, mowing through the Boston order. He struck out 12 and walked two.

Red Sox second baseman Pete Runnels provided the only close call of the game, and it was well before there was a no-hitter to worry about. Runnels was hobbled a bit when he stepped to the plate in the first inning. In the opening half-inning, Tigers shortstop Billy Martin slid into Runnels’ legs at second. So he wasn’t at full speed when he hit a grounder to third and was narrowly thrown out at first.

“I think I would have beaten it if my leg were right,” said Runnels afterward, according to the Boston Globe.

Bunning agreed: “I think he would have, too.”

The last out of the game was against Williams, who flied out to Al Kaline in right field. Bunning, a Hall of Famer, became the third pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the 47-year-old Fenway Park.

Aug. 25, 1952: Virgil Trucks
Tigers 1, Yankees 0

In the same season, 103 days after throwing his first no-hitter, Virgil Trucks did it again, this time against the Yankees. But from the third inning to the eighth inning, it didn’t appear that Trucks had a no-hitter going.

Phil Rizzuto hit a grounder to Tigers shortstop Johnny Pesky, who appeared to have trouble getting the ball out of his glove and as a result was late getting his throw to first. John Drebinger, who was covering the game for he New York Times and also acting as the official scorer at Yankee Stadium, initially ruled it an error. At the insistence of colleagues who said the ball was in the webbing of the glove, Drebinger ruled it a hit. Finally, after getting clarification from Pesky himself on what had happened, Drebinger changed it back to an error. It wasn’t until the eighth inning that the move was announced over the PA system.

Though still only a 1-0 Tigers win, this no-hitter was less stressful than the first. The Tigers got their run in the seventh inning. Trucks retired the last 20 Yankees batters he faced and struck out six.

Trucks joined Johnny Vander Meer (1938 Reds) and Allie Reynolds (’51 Yankees) as the only pitchers to throw two no-hitters in the same season. Nolan Ryan (’73 Angels), Roy Halladay (2010 Phillies) and Max Scherzer (’15 Nationals) have done it since.

May 15, 1952: Virgil Trucks
Tigers 1, Senators 0

As unlikely as no-hitters are by themselves, Trucks’ struggle to fame was compounded by a terrible start to the 1952 season. In his first four starts, he gave up 30 hits and was charged with 16 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings. This was part of a comeback process for Trucks, who missed most of the ’50 season with a serious arm injury.

Further, Tigers manager Rick Ferrell wasn’t even pleased with the way Trucks warmed up for the afternoon game.

“He didn’t warm up long enough,” said Farrell after the game, according to the Traverse City Record-Eagle. “He didn’t look loose to me at all.”

But Trucks stepped on the mound at Briggs Stadium (previously Navin Field, and later Tiger Stadium) in front of a few more than 2,200 fans and went toe-to-toe with Senators pitcher Bob Porterfield, who himself had a great game with four hits allowed over 8 2/3 innings. Trucks was even better. His only mistakes were a walk in the eighth inning and two hit batters.

Trucks retired the first two batters of the ninth inning, but fresh in his memory was teammate Art Houtteman losing a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth less than three weeks earlier. Mickey Vernon, the Senators’ cleanup hitter, struck out to give Trucks nine innings of no-hit ball. Oddly enough, though, there couldn’t be much celebration because the Tigers still hadn’t scored either. In the bottom of the ninth, Tigers slugger Vic Wertz belted a knee-high fastball just inside the right-field foul pole for a walk-off win, securing the no-hitter for Trucks.

July 4, 1912: George Mullin
Tigers 7, Browns 0

George Mullin, nicknamed “Wabash George,” tossed the first no-hitter in Tigers history in the second game of a Thursday doubleheader at Navin Field. He walked five and struck out five through his nine innings of hitless work. What’s more, he did it on his 32nd birthday.

Mullin got into trouble during the second inning when the St. Louis Browns put runners on first and second with no outs. Willie “Happy” Hogan tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but it was popped into the air and caught by Mullin off the mound. He threw to first to try to double up the runner, but he was called safe. First baseman George Moriarty threw the ball to shortstop Donnie Bush at second, though, and got that runner. An infield popout ended the inning.

Detroit Free Press sportswriter E.A. Batchelor wrote after the game that Mullin showed a lack of control, but he called it an “advantage rather than a defect. The big curve was just wild enough to keep the aliens guessing and hitting at bad balls.”

Mullin, an aging veteran who won two games for the Tigers in the 1909 World Series, was placed on waivers a few weeks before the game. He was activated after no team claimed him, making the no-hitter his first game back.

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