DETROIT — Justin Verlander was at his best in a marquee pitching matchup that lived up to its billing.
Verlander came within four outs of another no-hitter, outdueling an angry Jered Weaver as the Detroit Tigers beat the Los Angeles Angels, 3-2, on Sunday in a testy game that grew particularly heated in the late innings.
“That was a lot of fun,” Verlander said.
The game was hyped as a battle between American League Cy Young Award candidates, and it sure was entertaining.
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Maicer Izturis lined an RBI single to left field with two outs in the eighth for the Angels’ only hit. Verlander (15-5) was trying for his third career no-hitter and second this season.
“Justin and Jered was the matchup that everyone wanted to see, and I don’t think anyone left here disappointed,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I think they were both pumped up, and it was exciting for the fans.”
Verlander’s dominant outing was almost overshadowed by a feud between Weaver and Carlos Guillen.
Weaver was ejected for throwing a pitch over Alex Avila’s head in the seventh, right after Guillen showboated on a home run — infuriating the right-hander.
Sensing trouble was coming, plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt warned both benches. But Weaver threw the next pitch near Avila’s head and was quickly ejected along with Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia.
Later, Erick Aybar tried to bunt for a hit leading off the eighth against Verlander, a move often considered a violation of baseball etiquette when a pitcher has a no-hitter going in the late innings.
“I know it was only 3-0, so I can understand there are arguments on both sides. But as a pitcher, we call that bush league,” Verlander said.