There is perhaps nothing more exciting in sports than watching a no-hitter. 

The Detroit Tigers, one of the oldest most storied franchises in MLB, now have seven no-hitters, the latest by Justin Verlander, who joined Virgil Trucks as the only Tigers to hurl two. 

Verlander didn’t have his best stuff, striking out only four, but he had it all working. 

What makes a no-hitter so exciting? 

It’s the anticipation. Twenty-seven chances to hit, and after the sixth inning we begin to think no-hitter. With each hitter retired we do the math: only “x” number of outs to go to achieve history. 

Last summer I attended Armando Galarraga’s one-hitter at Comerica Park—a perfect game until the last hitter was called safe at first base on a play that wasn’t even close. 

In the eighth inning, my former colleague’s husband leaned over to me to ask if any Cleveland Indian had reached base. I was remiss to saying anything for fear of jinxing Galarraga. 

I watched Verlander’s gem, pitched in Toronto, and watched the zeros mount, inning by inning. Even Mario Impemba and Rod Allen, the play-by-play analyst and the color commentator, took care not to mention we were watching a no-hitter in the making. All we got was, “Justin Verlander has retired (insert number) straight hitters.” 

While Verlander was doing his thing, the Tigers hitters quietly put up nine runs. 

And in the bottom of the ninth inning, Verlander retired the first hitter on one pitch. He’d tossed 99 pitches and was still throwing three-digit fastballs. He was on a mission. 

When the third batter came to the plate, Blue Jays fans were on their feet cheering mightily to see history made—only in Canada do you see the home team cheer for the visitors. 

The camera showed the Tigers bench: everyone was sitting back, no one was at the railing straining to see what happens—from the looks on their faces you’d think they were about to lose the game. It was just another game to them, for fear of jinxing immortality. 

Verlander got the last hitter to swing at and miss a pitch out of the strike zone and all bedlam broke loose. The bench cleared to join the position players to congratulate Verlander. A lot of hugs—but no hug was tighter than the one Verlander gave his catcher, Alex Avila. 

Congratulations, Justin. Somehow I think that perfect game is still on the horizon.

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