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Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Justin-credible as Tigers move into first


Justin Verlander
Verlander
For the second time this week it appeared we would have a pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a regular season for the first time since 1973 when Nolan Ryan did so. But like Francisco Liriano on Sunday, Justin Verlander's bid at a second no-hitter ended in the eighth inning.

However Verlander finished the game notching a two-hit shutout, his third complete game of the season. More importantly he put the Detroit Tigers back in sole possession of first place in the AL Central for the first time since July 10 of last season.

While he did not complete the second no-hitter, by some measures Verlander did complete a better performance.

Game Score, a metric developed by Bill James, measures a pitcher's single-game performance based on innings pitched, runs, hits, strikeouts and walks.The average score is around 50 and most games are between 0-100.

According to this metric, Verlander scored a 94 with his performance on Tuesday. In his no-hitter earlier this season his Game Score was a 90. In fact, the 94 was the highest recorded Game Score this season.

Verlander struck out 12 batters, his 14th game with double-digit strikeouts in the last three seasons. That is tied with Jon Lester for most in the American League during that span and trails only Tim Lincecum (18) for most in all of baseball.
The Cleveland Indians missed at 24 of his pitches, the second straight start Verlander has generated that many swings-and-misses. Only two other pitchers have gotten 24 or more misses in a start this season.

With this performance Verlander passed Roy Halladay for the lead in overall swing-and-misses in 2011. Those two are at 205 and 201, respectively, more than 20 ahead of anyone else.

Not to be outdone, James Shields threw his major-league leading third shutout of the season as the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Boston Red Sox to snap their nine-game win streak.

James Shields
Shields
According to Elias, Shields is the first pitcher to throw a shutout to end a win streak of at least nine games by the opposing team since Rodrigo Lopez shut out the Oakland Athletics to end their 10-game win streak on September 3, 2003.

The last pitcher to shut out the Red Sox to end a win streak of at least nine games was Jim Abbott on August 30, 1989.

This marked Shield's second career shutout against the Red Sox. He accounts for half of the franchises career shutouts pitched against Boston. Scott Kazmir in 2006 and Steve Trachsel in 2000 each had one.

Shields' changeup continues to be his out pitch. Red Sox hitters were 0-10 with four strikeouts in at-bats ending with it. He now has 53 strikeouts with his changeup this season, seven more than any other pitcher in baseball.