DETROIT — Mitch Moreland finally broke up Justin Verlander’s no-hit bid in the seventh inning.
By then, the Texas Rangers were already five runs behind, with Verlander shutting down hitters in a less overpowering manner than usual.
“It was a little bit different Verlander than what we usually see,” Moreland said. “He mixed a lot of off-speed in there and kept us off-balance. I felt like we hit some balls hard, but it seemed like they went right to them. You’ve got to tip your hat to what he did, it’s always a battle going against him and he’s where he’s at for a reason. It was a tough one for us.”
Verlander held Texas hitless until the seventh, and the Detroit Tigers backed their ace with three home runs in a 5-0 victory over the Rangers on Sunday. Moreland’s two-out double to right-center ended Verlander’s shot at his third career no-hitter.
Verlander (10-6) left the game after the seventh with a tight right quad muscle, having allowed just that one hit and three walks. He struck out only three but was still effective.
“We squared some balls up and they played some great defense out there for him today,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “I didn’t think he was at his best and we worked him pretty good but they ended up putting runs on the board and we didn’t.”
Torii Hunter, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta hit solo homers off Texas starter Martin Perez (3-2). The Rangers finished with two hits.
Perez allowed five runs and four hits in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out four and walked three.
Although he also took a no-hitter into the seventh at Houston on May 5, Verlander’s overpowering aura hasn’t been quite the same this season. Sunday’s gem lowered his ERA to 3.50.
Verlander no-hit Toronto on May 7, 2011.
His other no-hitter came June 12, 2007, against Milwaukee.
The drama began building in Detroit the fourth when Tigers left fielder Matt Tuiasosopo got turned around on a line drive by Nelson Cruz. He was able to recover and reach up for the catch.
In the fifth, Hunter ran to the corner in right to catch a flyball by Elvis Andrus. Jurickson Profar, the next hitter, sent a smash toward Martinez, who was playing first base because Prince Fielder was Detroit’s designated hitter Sunday. Martinez made the stop and took the ball to first himself for the third out of the inning.
Hunter went deep in the first to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead, and Martinez and Peralta hit back-to-back homers in the fourth.
Detroit added two runs in the sixth on RBI singles by Peralta and Tuiasosopo, although that rally made Verlander wait a while before taking the mound again.
The following inning was when Moreland connected for the first Texas hit.
“I just tried to stay back and get a pitch up to hit,” Moreland said. “As an opposing team, you never want to be on that side of it. I just tried to get a good pitch to hit, I wasn’t thinking about being ‘that’ guy.”
Neither Hunter nor center fielder Austin Jackson had much of a shot at Moreland’s drive.
“Obviously, it’s one of those things you start to think about,” Verlander said. “I’ve been there before, where I’ve lost them in the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth. So I guess I’ve — not become accustomed to it — but you learn to just refocus and just get the next guy. That’s all I can do.”
Still, this was much better than Verlander’s outing at Texas on May 16, when he allowed eight runs and didn’t get out of the third inning.
Verlander received a nice ovation from the home crowd after the first Texas hit, and another one when he came back to the dugout after retiring his final hitter.
NOTES: The Rangers enter the All-Star break having lost four of five. ... Detroit manager Jim Leyland said Anibal Sanchez will start Friday at Kansas City in the first game after the All-Star break, followed by Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello.