Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 5/19/12
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DETROIT -- Less than 24 hours later, Tigers manager Jim Leyland was still raving about Justin Verlander's one-hit shutout of the Pittsburgh Pirates. "Thats probably the best game Ive ever seen pitched, and Ive seen a lot of games -- over 3,000," Leyland said. "I dont know how to explain that. "Anybody who was here last night probably saw one of the best games pitched in baseball, I would think." As talented and driven as Verlander is, it doesn't always mean it's easy for Leyland to just throw his ace out there and let him go. "I have to be careful with him," Leyland said. "He thinks he can throw 175 pitches, and hes dead serious. I told him that will never happen as long as Im here. "Most guys go from 95 (miles per hour), and by the seventh, theyre down to 92 or 91. This guy goes from 92 to 94 to 95 in the middle to 99 to 100 late. Thats why its a freaky thing. Ive never seen anything like it. Ive never seen a better pitched game than that one last night -- never. "If you watch Verlander sometimes, the average person sees 98 (speed) on the scoreboard, but they dont see the 98 I see. I see the difference between the 98 thats more effort, and the 98 thats effortless. Theres a major difference in that, and thats what he did last night. "When he got to 98-100, it was fluid. It wasnt muscling way up. If you watch close, you can see it. Its amazing to me." Leyland said he offered Verlander the lineup card from the game, but he didn't want it. That doesn't mean Verlander wasn't happy with the way he pitched. "Not the best stuff, but the command was pretty good," Verlander said. "I definitely rank it right up there with some of the best pitching performances I've had, maybe No. 1. "That's why I say no-hitters are not easy to come by. Sometimes they come when you least expect it, when you don't have your best stuff. "Yesterday was just an example of that. I pitched about as well as I can, and they scratched a hit. What are you going to do?" Verlander threw his first no-hitter in 2007 against the Milwaukee Brewers and his second last year in Toronto. "I think I'm a better pitcher now than the one against Milwaukee," Verlander said. "I thought the one against Milwaukee was basically pure stuff as opposed to this one, did a lot of pitching, especially early on in the game." Pirates reliever Jason Grilli was a member of the Tigers when Verlander threw that first no-hitter. "He's impressive every time he's out there," Grilli said. "I saw him when he threw his first one, so it was kind of ironic to be on the other side in the other bullpen seeing him throw another one. "He definitely was good when he came up, but you can definitely see he's a matured pitcher as well. He's one of the best. I'm sure he'll have plenty more chances to do what he was doing last night." Grilli agreed that Verlander is much more of a pitcher than he was that June night in 2007. "What he does in the sixth, seventh, eighth inning, he used to do that right out of the gate," Grilli said. "I think it's just maturing in the game. You know your limitations and you know what your capabilities are. "If you stay around long enough, you have the opportunity to do that. It was definitely impressive." Verlander still feels he has another level to reach to become the best, which is what he aims to be. "If I can pitch every game like I did last time," Verlander said. "That's not that far off. I'm not saying a one-hitter. I'm just saying the way I pitch. "I can pitch like that many times, and it's not going to be a one-hit shutout. If I can continue to pitch like that consistently, that's obviously what everybody's looking for, more consistency." As good as he is on the mound, Verlander is still looking for his first major-league hit. In 20 at-bats in interleague play, he has not managed to get one. Maybe this will be the year. "God, I hope so so I can get the monkey off my back," Verlander said with a laugh. "I think when the first one comes, it's going to be a rain, a parade of hits." Verlander took batting practice with the rest of the pitchers before Saturday's game, even managing to hit a home run. "I'm just out there the first day just taking easy hacks, not trying to hurt myself or anything, just nice and smooth," Verlander said. "I think I'm 0-for-25 or something in my career, something like that, I don't know. "Miggy and Prince both went through those streaks this year, so I'm right up there with the best hitters in the league." VALVERDE, JACKSON UPDATE It's beginning to look more and more like Jose Valverde (lower back strain) and Austin Jackson (mild abdominal strain) won't play until next week's series in Cleveland, which starts Tuesday. "Valverde is day-to-day, but he is going to throw (Sunday)," Leyland said. "Hes going to throw and see how he feels. If he felt great, he may be available (Sunday). I doubt that. I think itll be Tuesday in Cleveland. Leyland said he's not going to take any chances with Jackson, who is also day-to-day and planned to take a few swings off a tee and do some throwing to test the injury on Saturday. "I guess try to push it as far as it can go, and if it starts hurting at all, kind of back it off a little bit," Jackson said. "I think the main thing is to see how far I can go with it, get a good gauge from that." CATCHING UP WITH GRILLI Grilli, a native of Royal Oak, Mich., has had somewhat of a rocky road since leaving the Tigers in 2008, when he was traded to the Colorado Rockies. In addition to his time with the Rockies, he's had a couple of stints in the minors before ending up with the Pirates last season. This season he's 1-1 with a 2.40 ERA, fifth in the majors among relievers, and has 26 strikeouts. The Pirates are 12-4 in his 16 appearances. Although Grilli -- whose whose father, Steve, also played for the Tigers -- had some good moments with the Tigers, he struggled at times and fans were not always kind. But Grilli has fond memories of his time in Detroit. "It's always hard when you're departing somewhere where you're getting some of that flak at the end, but I try to take away the positives, too," Grilli said. "I had a chance at a World Series run here. I did some good things here, despite what some people may think." Grilli's son Jayse was born when he was with the Tigers and is 4 years old now. "He might be throwing strikes of a different kind," Grilli said. "He's into bowling. He just started loving it, and in the offseason, we go at least twice a week." Even though his career has had its ups and downs, Grilli is grateful to be in the big leagues. "Life is good. I can't complain," Grilli said. "I've persevered through a lot of stuff, and I'm still wearing a jersey."
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