One of the most memorable games of a memorable season occurred on July 31, 2011. Justin Verlander bested Jered Weaver in a battle for the Cy Young Award. Verlander dominated the Angels for most of the game while Weaver made a couple of mistakes. Those mistakes led to sparks on the field. Essentially, Weaver overreacted following a Magglio Ordonez home run leading to a feud which continued throughout the game and ended a no-hit bid.
In 2011, Justin Verlander no-hit the Blue Jays early in the season and flirted with no-hitters on a number of other occasions. On July 31, he did not allow a hit to the Angels until the eighth inning. His opposite number, Jered Weaver, showed the strain of competing against the Tiger ace. However, he seemed to be matching Verlander pitch-for-pitch in the beginning.
Neither team scored in the first two innings. Verlander retired the first six Angels, including two by strikeout. Weaver allowed two hits, but no runs and struck out three. Verlander retired the side in order in the third and added two strikeouts. The Tiger bats struck in the bottom of the frame.
Weaver walked Don Kelly to lead off the third. With two out, Magglio Ordonez launched a ball to left. The fly curved along the line and Ordonez took his time circling the bases expecting it to go foul. It stayed fair and Detroit led 2-0. Weaver believed Ordonez showed him up and hurled invectives at the Tiger as he headed into the dugout. The Tiger bench took note of Weaver’s childish behavior.
The game remained 2-0 through the middle innings. Between the fourth and sixth innings, only Bobby Abreu reached base. Verlander walked him in the fourth and again in the seventh, but did not score. In the bottom of the seventh, Weaver lost his mind.
With two out, Carlos Guillen homered to right field. The Tiger infielder intentionally admired his shot, flipped the bat while staring down Weaver, and then took 29 seconds to round the bases. Guillen’s actions derived from Weaver’s tantrum earlier in the game. Guillen unnerved the Anaheim hurler whose face burned with anger. The next pitch flew over Alex Avila’s head leading to Weaver’s ejection. The pitcher threw a tantrum on the way back to the dugout. Rarely have major league professionals acted so unprofessionally on the field as Weaver that day.
As Weaver melted down, Verlander continued to melt bats. The Tiger ace took a no-hitter into the eighth. Erick Aybar tried breaking up the no-hit bid with a bunt. This goes against the game’s code and Verlander later called the action “bush league.” Aybar reached first on an error as Verlander tossed the ball away. Anaheim’s announcers claimed “home town scoring” on the play, but a good throw gets Aybar easily. The Angels scored two in the inning and Maicer Izturis broke up the no-hitter with two-out single in the inning. After the eighth, Verlander shouted to Aybar promising retribution for the Angels’ cheap attempt at breaking up his no-hitter.
Things calmed down on the field in the ninth. Jose Valverde nailed down the save and Verlander achieved another victory in the midst of an amazing 22-2 stretch. Weaver was saddled with his fifth loss of the campaign. The two teams combined for five hits and a lot of hard feelings.
Jered Weaver overreacted on a fly ball Magglio Ordonez believed going foul. As a result of his tantrum, Carlos Guillen decided to put the pitcher in his place. Weaver’s ensuing temper tantrum and ejection led to fireworks in the eighth. Erick Aybar’s bush league bunt further deteriorated relations between Anaheim and Detroit. In the end, the Tigers escaped with a victory. Too bad these teams do not play each other more often.