Continued from page 1

“When I started the game, I felt like I was playing catch,” he said. “It was just really easy. I was just trying to hit my spots, stay nice and slow and methodical. I really didn’t amp it up that much, except for two strikes here and there, until the seventh inning or so.

“When it got to that point my thought was ‘If I’m going to give up a hit, I want to give up a hit on my best stuff. I don’t want to give up a hit on some little blooper on a 93 mile per hour fastball down and away. I want to make them hit all I’ve got.’”

Verlander faced the minimum 27 batters. His only blemish, an eighth-inning walk on a 3-2 fastball to rookie catcher J.P. Arencibia, was immediately erased by Edwin Encarnacion’s double play grounder.

“That was as dominating a performance as I’ve ever seen,” Leyland said. “It was almost a calm no-hitter. It was almost just like I’m at work, I’m doing my job. It was totally different from most no-hitters. You talk about a masterpiece. That’s dominant.”

Verlander fanned 12 in his first no-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers on June 12, 2007. Thanks to his newfound calm, he said Saturday’s game felt even better.

“It’s probably the best I’ve felt on a mound in my professional career so far,” he said. “Just the calmness and the ability to throw strikes and really do what I wanted with the ball.”

Just as impressive, he blanked the Blue Jays despite struggling with his curveball.

“The only hard-hit balls were curveballs,” he said. “My breaking ball on the first (no-hitter) was just tremendous and yesterday it was just OK. It really wasn’t anything to write home about. Something to work on in between starts, I guess.”

Despite not having his the curve, Verlander found success by taking something off his slider.

“That was very surprising for me, as good as it was, and it all goes back to slowing down in the first couple of innings,” he said. “I was throwing it 82, 83 early on instead of 87, 88 89 and man, it had a lot of bite to it. It was really good. I commented to Alex after the second or third inning, ‘Hey man, that’s pretty good, right?’ He said ‘Yeah, it’s nasty. Keep throwing it 82, 83 because it’s got a lot of bite to it.’”

Leyland believes his 28-year-old ace has another no-hitter in him. Verlander agrees, even if Nolan Ryan’s record seven feels out of reach.

“Long way to go to that one, huh?” Verlander said. “I really feel like I’m coming into myself as a pitcher, and I definitely think there’s going to be more opportunities. Things have to go your way, things have to work out right, but I feel as long as I continue to mature as a pitcher and grow the way I think I am, there’ll definitely be some opportunities there, whether they go my way or not.”