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DET@TOR: Arencibia's walk ends perfect game in eighth

TORONTO -- For all of his struggles Saturday, Ricky Romero knew one thing -- if there was ever a day to not have his best stuff, this was it.

"There's not much you can do against a no-hitter," Romero succinctly said after he was hit hard in the Blue Jays 9-0 drubbing at the hands of the Tigers and Justin Verlander, who pitched the MLB's 271st no-hitter at Rogers Centre Saturday night.

Despite the fact Romero (2-4) left after 3 1/3 innings, giving up six earned runs on five hits, none of it mattered much anyway as his adversary Verlander was simply untouchable throughout the afternoon, throwing the second no-hitter of his career.

The 28-year-old made the Blue Jays (15-18) victim of their fourth no-hitter in history and the first since 1991, when Hall-of-Famer Nolan Ryan pulled off the feat while he was with the Rangers.

Verlander (3-3) would come painfully close to a perfect game, retiring the first 22 batters he faced before Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia drew a walk in the eighth, after a marathon 12-pitch at-bat in which he fouled off eight pitches.

"He made some good pitches that I was able to foul off. I knew he was going to come after me and I knew he was going to throw his fastball at me once we got a 3-2 count," Arencibia said. "I was seeing the ball pretty well. I took it right away."

The 12th pitch, a 100 MPH fastball, ended up just outside the plate and left Verlander -- who faced the minimum and struck out four -- just outside the prestigious 20-member perfect game club.

"That one, right out of my finger tips I knew it was just a hair outside and it was," Verlander said. "Hell of an at-bat. ... [Arencibia] laid off some good pitches, he fouled off some good pitches. I can't say enough about the way he battled that at-bat."

Verlander was able to get Edwin Encarnacion, the next batter, to ground into a double play, and thus still face the minimum number of batters.

For as good as he was through the game's first few innings, Verlander seemed to find another gear when he crossed into the seventh, pounding his fastball into the zone at 100 MPH and faster. No Blue Jay hitter would even come close to a hit in the late innings.

"He was unbelievable today. Anytime your 106th pitch is hitting 100 -- I would say that's pretty ridiculous stuff," Arencibia said.

The closest the Blue Jays would come to breaking up Verlander's bid for history was in the fifth inning, when Edwin Encarnacion rocketed a grounder directly into the tall right-hander's right forearm.

Verlander quickly recovered, finding the ball near the third-base line and shooting a dart to first just in time to get the sprinting Encarnacion on a close call.

Blue Jays manager John Farrell saw it differently and came out to argue the call, to no avail.

"I saw him as being safe. There wasn't a willingness to see if there was a different angle on the play. Even from the dugout, I felt like he was safe," Farrell said.

Even with that infield single, however, the Blue Jays chances of victory were long since dashed, as their staff ace Romero imploded on the mound early.

Saturday was Romero's shortest start of the season and he allowed the most runs he has allowed since Sept. 11, 2010, when he gave up six to the Rays. It was just the fourth time the left-hander has allowed six or more runs in his three-season career.

"It was just an off day for me. I just had a bad day," Romero said after the game. "Even the first two innings, I felt like something wasn't right. I kind of felt like my arm angle was a little low today for some reason."

Despite not feeling his best in the early going, everything was looking fine for Romero when he retired the first six batters he faced, striking out two and forcing the other four to ground out. But the Tigers (16-18) torched the 26-year-old for five hits and six earned runs over the third and fourth innings, chasing him from the game with one out in the fourth.

Romero did most of the damage to himself in the third, stringing together a balk, a hit-by-pitch, two walks and a wild pitch to allow the Tigers to open up a 3-0 lead. Despite notching just two hits, the Tigers sent seven batters to the plate in the inning and only one of their runs came on a ball in play -- a Magglio Ordonez groundout.

But the fourth inning was a different story, as the Tigers put up three runs over three batters with a Johnny Peralta solo home run to left field and a towering two-run shot by Alex Avila to deep right-center, sending Romero to the showers early.

"I think once that balk happened, it kind of rattled him a little bit and he lost his composure," Romero's catcher Arencibia said. "He was able to come back and still make some pitches, but he was getting behind guys and left some balls up and they did a good job of hitting the balls he left up."

Romero was pitching on seven day's rest after being scratched from his scheduled Thursday start with a right oblique injury. But Romero said he wasn't bothered in the slightest by the injury or the time off, and that Saturday simply wasn't his day.

"Not at all -- it felt fine," Romero said when asked if he felt any discomfort throwing. "I felt good and the arm felt good. It's just something where you get ready for the next one."

As if Saturday's game wasn't disheartening enough for the Blue Jays, first baseman Adam Lind left the game between the sixth and seventh innings with tightness in his lower back. The 27-year-old was one of Toronto's hottest hitters coming into the game, batting .421 with six home runs and 18 RBIs over his last 14 games. Farrell said after the game that Lind's status is day-to-day.

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