On Thursday, Major League Baseball presented “Opening Day at Home” -- a full slate of 30 games broadcast nationally across various platforms including networks, digital streaming and social media, creating a full-day event on what would have been Opening Day. The experience was intended to invite fans to feel a
On Thursday, Major League Baseball presented “Opening Day at Home” -- a full slate of 30 games broadcast nationally across various platforms including networks, digital streaming and social media, creating a full-day event on what would have been Opening Day. The experience was intended to invite fans to feel a sense of community and unity on a day many were looking forward to while underscoring the importance of staying home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Using #OpeningDayAtHome, fans could connect with each other while watching their team’s selected game at a set time. Astros fans relived one of the most exciting games of the 2019 season -- Justin Verlander’s third career no-hitter on Sept. 1 against the Blue Jays in Toronto.
“Opening Day at Home” also was an opportunity for MLB to raise awareness for several worthy charities that are helping provide relief to the most vulnerable communities impacted by the pandemic. Last week, MLB and the MLBPA made a $1 million joint donation to Feeding America and Meals on Wheels, in addition to a $30 million commitment made by MLB clubs to emergency relief for ballpark employees. If so willing and able, fans can contribute toward these charities, MLB official charity Boys & Girls Clubs of America and additional causes at MLB.com/give.
In a season full of tremendous accomplishments that led to him winning his second American League Cy Young Award, Verlander’s most satisfying feat came on a Sunday afternoon in September in Canada.
Verlander spun his third career no-hitter in the Astros’ 2-0 win over the Blue Jays, joining Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Bob Feller, Larry Corcoran and Cy Young as the only pitchers to throw three or more in their careers.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know that,” said Verlander, who has twice lost a no-hitter in the ninth inning. “Definitely a big hurdle to get over, and a special moment for me.”
The game was scoreless entering the ninth inning before rookie Abraham Toro -- a native of Canada -- hit a two-run homer to put the Astros ahead. Verlander took the mound in the bottom of the ninth and got Brandon Drury to ground out, Reese McGuire to strike out and Bo Bichette to ground out to Toro at third to end the game.
“It’s elation,” Verlander said. “It’s so cool to be able to have everybody jumping up and down and have everybody else that excited.”
Verlander threw his first career no-hitter in 2007 in Detroit and his second in '11 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, making him the first pitcher to throw multiple no-hitters in the same road ballpark.
“The last one, 2011, was kind of the height of my pitching as a young man,” Verlander said. “You know, ’11 and ’12 went well, then ’13 and ’14 I had some injuries plague me a bit. The process of coming back is not easy. … [My family] knows how hard I work behind the scenes, and I think that’s one of the things that they’re most proud of.”
Verlander walked the second batter he faced -- Cavan Biggio, son of Astros Hall of Famer Craig Biggio -- and didn’t allow another baserunner. He struck out 14, en route to a season in which he fanned 300 for the first time and reached 3,000 career strikeouts.
This week, MLB unlocked its expansive vault and is offering fans special access to the league’s most unforgettable moments. MLB has made the entire 2018 and '19 game archives free to all fans through MLB.TV. Fans can also access more than 200 full classic MLB games on YouTube, including timeless World Series games, memorable postseason matchups, no-hitters and perfect games.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.