Verlander's no-no among most dominant ever

Righty's game score of 100 vs. Blue Jays in record territory

September 1st, 2019

was absolutely dominant in his no-hitter against the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon. He walked just one batter and notched 14 strikeouts, while also exceeding the 250-strikeout plateau for the 2019 season -- marking the fifth time in his career that he's done so.

Verlander's gem had a game score of 100, which assigns points for strikeouts, outs and completed innings after the fourth -- a useful measure of how dominant a pitcher was.

Here are the 10 most dominant no-hitters, by highest game score in a no-hitter, since 1908:

1. Max Scherzer, 104 (10/3/2015 at Mets)

This is probably the first no-hitter that comes to mind when you think about total dominance. Even though he wasn’t perfect -- Kevin Plawecki reached on a Yunel Escobar error to lead off the sixth -- Scherzer himself was flawless. He struck out 17 batters, tying Nolan Ryan’s record for the most in a no-hitter, in Flushing in the second game of a doubleheader on the penultimate day of the season.

2. Clayton Kershaw, 102 (6/18/2014 vs. Rockies)

Kershaw’s only career no-hitter was a doozy, as he set down 15 batters with strikeouts against the Rockies. If not for a Hanley Ramirez throwing error to allow Corey Dickerson to reach base to start the seventh, Kershaw would’ve thrown a perfect game. At the time, only Ryan had notched more than 15 strikeouts in a no-hitter, having done so twice. Scherzer joined that list a year later (see above).

3-Tie. Matt Cain, 101 (perfect game, 6/13/2012 vs. Astros)

Cain’s game score is tied for the highest on record in a perfect game. On his day of perfection, he struck out 14 Astros on 125 pitches, marking the most strikeouts in any no-hitter of any kind in Giants history. It was also the first perfect game in club history and the 22nd overall.

3-Tie. Nolan Ryan, 101 (5/1/1991 vs. Blue Jays)

It’s fitting that Ryan is on this list -- twice, in fact -- given that he threw a Major League-record seven no-hitters. He had another with more strikeouts than his 16 against the Blue Jays here, but he walked fewer batters in this one, which makes the game score higher and the dominance more palpable. He walked just two en route to his seventh and final no-hitter at the ripe age of 44.

3-Tie. Sandy Koufax, 101 (perfect game, 9/9/1965 vs. Cubs)

Koufax set the standard for strikeouts -- and dominance -- in a perfect game with his gem against the Cubs in 1965. He struck out a record 14 batters in a perfect game, besting Jim Bunning’s previous mark of 10 done in 1964, and Koufax’s record has been matched just once since, by Cain -- which explains the identical, and perfect-game record, game scores.

3-Tie. Nap Rucker, 101 (9/5/1908 vs. Braves)

In an era when it was the norm for no-hitters to feature fewer than 10 strikeouts, Rucker fanned 14, which would stand as a record for a no-hitter until 1960, when Warren Spahn struck out 15 in a no-no. Also of note: Rucker went the distance in just the second season of his career.

7-Tie. Justin Verlander, 100 (9/1/2019 at Blue Jays)

Verlander punched out 14 and walked just one over a 120-pitch masterpiece at Rogers Centre -- the peak of what’s developed into an AL Cy Young Award-caliber season for the eight-time All-Star. Verlander overcame a lack of fastball velocity and command early -- he needed 21 pitches to get through the first -- and flashed some of his best secondary stuff en route to becoming just the sixth pitcher to complete three no-hitters.

7-Tie. Randy Johnson, 100 (perfect game, 5/18/2004 at Braves)

A 40-year-old Johnson became the oldest pitcher to throw a perfect game when he punched out 13 in Atlanta, falling just one strikeout shy of tying Koufax and Cain’s record for most in a perfect game. Johnson even fanned Chipper Jones a rare three times (Jones had just 35 such games over his 19-year career), and he pitched without a safety net, as Atlanta’s Mike Hampton also tossed a complete game and gave up just two runs. Johnson went the distance on 117 pitches to notch one of his 37 shutouts -- the most by any pitcher over Johnson’s 22 seasons in the Majors from 1988-2009.

7-Tie. Nolan Ryan, 100 (7/15/1973 at Tigers)

Ryan’s second season with the Angels still ranks among the most dominant of any pitcher in history, and he was positively stifling during his second no-no of that summer. Ryan’s 17 strikeouts stood alone in no-hitter history for 42 years until Scherzer tied the mark, and he was so overpowering (four batters reached via walk) that Tigers slugger Norm Cash famously brought a table leg to the plate for the game’s final at-bat. Legend has it that Cash and his teammates thanked the home-plate umpire that day when he called strike three and sent them back to safety in the dugout.

7-Tie. Warren Spahn, 100 (9/16/1960 vs. Phillies)

Spahn only topped his 15 strikeouts in this game one other time in his prolific career, and that was an 18-strikeout effort across 15 innings in a complete-game loss to the Cubs on June 14, 1952. This one required much less work. Spahn faced just two batters over the minimum and notched the one thing missing from his career resume at age 39: a no-hitter. Sphan added his second no-no the next year at age 40.