The Houston Astros nearly made baseball history, coming within an inning of becoming the first team ever to throw two combined no-hitters in a season.
The near no-hitter came in an 10-0 win over the Phillies, who clinched and celebrated a playoff berth Monday night in Houston. The Astros also threw a combined no-hitter earlier this season on June 25 behind Cristian Javier, Ryan Pressly and Hector Neris. No team has ever pulled it off twice in a season.
Justin Verlander was the story, though, above the flirtation with another no-hitter. He started the game and was dominant through five innings, striking out 10 and walking one in those no-hit innings. He had thrown 77 pitches and was pulled from the game because it was essentially meaningless and he's getting ready for what the Astros hope is a deep playoff run. Also, he said after the game there was a cut on his hand and he didn't want to make it worse (mlb.com).
Additionally, Verlander should have locked up his third Cy Young.
He ends the season 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 185 strikeouts in 175 innings. He'll end the season leading the AL in wins, winning percentage, ERA, and WHIP, among other categories. Not only would it be his third Cy Young, but he also has an MVP and finished second place in Cy Young voting three times. His Hall of Fame resume keeps growing.
As for the run at a no-hitter, relievers Hunter Brown (2 1/3 innings) and Neris (2/3 innings) navigated the Phillies' lineup through the eighth inning without allowing a hit. It was Garrett Stubbs leading off the ninth with a single against lefty Will Smith to break it up. Bryce Harper and Darick Hall would follow with singles before Smith struck out three straight hitters to end the game.
The Astros moved to 105-56 on the season. They are locked in to the top AL seed in the playoffs and trail just the Dodgers from the NL side. They'll be looking for their fourth AL pennant in the last six seasons and their second World Series title, paired with 2017, during that run.