Justin Verlander took the bump Wednesday to face the Detroit Tigers, with whom the ace won the 2011 AL Cy Young and MVP award. While the right-hander was as dominant as he's ever been, his former team got the better of him, relegating Verlander to an improbable list of losers.
The Houston Astros starter became the third pitcher in MLB history to be saddled with a loss despite striking out 10 or more batters, allowing two or fewer hits, and surrendering zero walks over a complete-game effort, according to StatsCentre. James Shields in 2012 and Rich Hill in 2017 are the only other pitchers to have done so.
Verlander's final line included two runs - both earned - on a pair of solo home runs and 11 strikeouts over nine innings of work. He now owns a 2.77 ERA and 3.59 FIP over 27 starts this season. Even further, Verlander's now 2-2 lifetime against the Tigers with a 3.10 ERA in four starts.
Shields, who remains a free agent, pulled off the hard-luck loss as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays during a start on Oct. 2, 2012, against the Baltimore Orioles. The right-hander allowed one run - a solo homer from Chris Davis - while striking out 15.
More recently, Hill memorably accomplished the feat while carrying a no-hitter into the 10th inning in a start against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The left-hander struck out 10 but allowed a walk-off home run to Josh Harrison to lead off the 10th frame. The only other baserunner Hill had to contend with was Jordy Mercer, who reached on an error to lead off the ninth, which spoiled a streak of 24 batters retired to start the game.
Verlander's remarkable outing prolonged a streak of seven consecutive games with double-digit strikeouts. He's now one game away from tying the all-time record, which is held by Pedro Martinez (1999) and Chris Sale (2015, 2017), according to StatsCentre.