- Associated Press - Sunday, May 8, 2011

TORONTO (AP) - Justin Verlander was picking up the check. The steaks and wine were on him, and why not?

He had just pitched the second no-hitter of his career, and after he made sure the Blue Jays pretty much came nowhere near the ball, he made sure his teammates came nowhere near the bill.

Fresh off the 9-0 victory, Verlander went for dinner at Barberian’s Steak House in downtown Toronto.

“A great night,” Verlander said. “It was fantastic. Probably one of the best dinners I’ve ever had.”

Catcher Alex Avila, pitchers Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer, utilityman Don Kelly and video coordinator Jeremy Kelch joined Verlander for an evening of food, drink and cigars in the wine cellar of the historic restaurant.

“To be honest, the thing I’m going to remember is having dinner with those guys,” Verlander said. “It was a pretty intimate setting, not a lot of guys, just a small group.”

Avila, who caught the no-hitter, echoed his batterymate’s sentiments.

“Those times are the best, when you can just enjoy something like that, celebrate something as historic as a no-hitter with people you care about,” Avila said. “It was a good time, a good meal. It was definitely the best steak and the best wine I’ve ever had.”

Verlander, a self-described “filet connoisseur,” even picked up the tab after ordering several high-priced bottles of wine to accompany the steaks. “I don’t think I could make those guys pay for that,” he said.

In truth, the only ones paying for Verlander’s brilliant Saturday were the Blue Jays, who managed just a single walk against the Tigers right-hander, the 2006 AL rookie of the year.

“You could certainly tell from the dugout he sniffed it,” Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. “In the last three innings he almost took on a closer’s mentality and he stepped on it for sure. The fact that he’s thrown a couple of no-hitters isn’t an accident. He was better than every guy that stepped to the plate yesterday.”

For Tigers manager Jim Leyland, the most impressive thing about Verlander’s performance was his relaxed composure on the mound, and what that might mean for his future.

“This could very easily be the game that turns his career from an outstanding pitcher to the next level,” Leyland said. “It’s the calmest I’ve ever seen his demeanor by far. Not like a bull in a china shop, he was calm the entire game.

“To me he’s got the best stuff in the league, the best raw stuff,” Leyland added. “Now he’s still got to mold that stuff into being the best pitcher.”

Verlander, who’s been working on slowing down his rhythm since losing to the Yankees last week, was surprised and impressed by the results.

Story Continues →