TORONTO -- Justin Verlander was so dominant, so close to perfection -- and yet he still needed a couple of superb defensive plays to complete the second no-hitter of his career.
And with only four strikeouts, the ball was being put into play, if not convincingly.
One of the plays, Verlander started himself to end the fifth inning. It was Edwin Encarnacion's shot back to the mound that hit his right arm and bounced to the third-base side of the mound.
Verlander quickly fielded the ball and made the throw to first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who cradled it to his lower mid-section. Encarnacion was called out.
"It stayed right there, you know," Cabrera said of his catch.
Verlander had some swelling in the arm where the ball hit him. Ice wasn't used, but a cold beverage can was applied to treat it.
"I was up in here with the trainers, I was kind of like a boxer," he said. "You see between rounds they put the cold stuff and kind of squish, they were doing that with my forearm -- I've got a pretty decent little lump there. But thankfully, they did a great job. They got the swelling down and allowed me to continue going out there.
"And on the throw, that's kind of a side-spin ball. I threw it from down low, and it was really the only way I could get rid of it quick enough. I knew it wasn't going to be an easy pick for Miguel, but what a job he did. He hung in there, I don't know where it hit him, but I have an idea. What a play."
The other key play was on Yunel Escobar's hard one-hopper to shortstop Jhonny Peralta to lead off the seventh. In tough, shadowy conditions with the Rogers Centre roof open for the first time this season, he snared it on a short hop and got the out at first.
"Nice, very good play," Cabrera said. "We were lucky on a couple of plays. We made the plays. It was so close to a perfect game. A walk, close. He was always ahead in the count."
"Cabrera made a great play," manager Jim Leyland said. "[Verlander] is a great athlete. He made a big play and Miguel made a big play at the other end of it."
Peralta's play was quietly superb.
"It was kind of hard, you know," Peralta said. "It's kind of hard to see at that time, and I saw it at the last moment. The shadows make it kind of hard to see from short to home plate at that time. I saw it in the end, and I felt good when it went into my glove.
"[Verlander] was really good. What I saw after the sixth inning, I [knew] something good was about to happen. Everything they hit was straight to somebody. I knew something good was about to happen."
The sixth ended on a line drive right to Cabrera.
"Peralta made a great play, quietly," Leyland said. "It was a great play, the ball short-hopped on him."
"A lot of people like to give the catcher credit," catcher Alex Avila said. "But [Verlander's] got to make the pitches and the guys out in the field have got to make the plays. That's the biggest thing."
Larry Millson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.