- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Yovani Gallardo kept putting up zeros, setting off no-hitter alerts all over. So when he glanced at the Busch Stadium scoreboard, the Milwaukee pitcher clearly saw what was happening.

In Toronto, that is. Because that’s where Justin Verlander was doing even better, working on a perfect game.

“Obviously, you see during the game different scores around MLB and, for some reason, the pitchers always notice that,” Gallardo said.

Minutes after Gallardo gave up his first hit against St. Louis, Verlander walked a Toronto batter. That’s all the Detroit ace yielded, though, while throwing the majors’ second no-hitter of the week.

By the time Verlander and his 100 mph heat finished what Francisco Liriano and his spinners started four days earlier, the stamp on this season was unmistakable.

This is the Year of the Pitcher II. King Felix and his fellow kings of the hill are ruling, with a vengeance.

“The days of slow-pitch softball are over,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

Homers, runs and hits, all down more than 7 percent from last May, reports STATS LLC. And remember: The overall 2010 totals were their lowest since the early 1990s.

“Last year they said it was the year of the pitcher because of all the no-hitters, and this year they’re doing the same thing,” Florida first baseman Gaby Sanchez noted.

All-Stars Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, Josh Johnson and Trevor Cahill are in control, joined by emerging talents Jaime Garcia, Max Scherzer and Justin Masterson. Together, they’ve put Albert Pujols, Magglio Ordonez, Adam Dunn and top sluggers in prolonged slumps.

Hitters, any suggestions?

“Maybe they should move the mound back,” Florida catcher John Buck quipped.

“It’s just baseball evolving, maybe going back to more traditional baseball. It always seems to balance itself out, whatever era it goes through _ steroids or whatever. Baseball seems to balance itself out. So I think it’s the natural course of things,” he said.

A season after Roy Halladay pitched two of the year’s six no-hitters, it seems as if every other day brings a close call.

Already there have been 13 instances of a no-hit bid going into the seventh inning, STATS LLC said. In 2006, when the season started at almost the same time, it had occurred only three times by now.

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