One out away from a perfect game (at the plate), Verlander looks for that first hit

SAN FRANCISCO -- Remember, this was the year Justin Verlander was finally going to get a hit.

He didn't.

Or he hasn't, because he still could, in Wednesday night's Game 1 of the World Series. And if I know Verlander, he's still absolutely certain that he will.

He always thinks he's going to get a hit.

"I've changed my batting stance," he told me, before interleague play began this year. "I tweaked it."

Then he went 0 for the season. Again.

In seven years in the big leagues, Verlander has come to the plate 33 times. He has nine sacrifice bunts.

And no hits. No hits, no walks, never hit by a pitch.

He's 0 for 24, plus 0 for 2 in the 2006 World Series.

If this were Verlander pitching, we'd be saying he's one out away from that ever-elusive perfect game.

Only three active big-league players have more career at-bats than Verlander without ever getting a hit. Former teammate Armando Galarraga leads the way, with 31. Jon Lester has 25, as does Stephen Vogt, a Rays catcher who spent some time in the big leagues this year.

A hit Wednesday wouldn't technically get Verlander off that list, since World Series stats don't get thrown in there with regular-season records. But you can bet that if Verlander does get a hit Wednesday, he'll talk about it enough that no one will ever be able to forget it.

You can bet that he believes he'll get one.

He always thinks he will.

So far, he never has.

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