"I've never seen anything like that," said Leyland after Verlander fired a complete-game one-hitter on Friday against Pittsburgh. "That's probably the best game I've ever seen pitched. I've seen a lot of games -- over 3,000. I don't know how you explain that. That's freaky."
The 29-year-old right-hander fired 8 1/3 innings without yielding a hit to the offensively-challenged Pirates. However, after getting a quick two strikes on Josh Harrison, the infielder reached out and slapped a single back up the middle to break up his third no-hit bid.
"If it was the best [I've ever pitched], it's hard to compare some of the others to this one, just because they're different," Verlander said. "I'm a different pitcher now than I was last year -- even of especially four-five years ago with the first no-hitter. But I felt like I pitched really well."
The Tigers ace will try to carry that momentum into Thursday's game against the first-place Indians. After dropping the first two contests, Detroit is fighting to avoid the sweep.
Verlander is 5-1 with a 2.14 ERA this season, and he went 3-0 with a 2.86 ERA in three starts against the Tribe in 2011.
Indians ace Justin Masterson takes the hill for the Tribe, hoping to contain the Tigers' batters enough to earn his second victory of the year. The 27-year-old right-hander is 1-3 with a 5.04 ERA so far in 2012. He is coming off a solid start against the Marlins, in which he fired seven innings of six-hit, two-run ball in an eventual 3-2 loss.
"There were some good in-game adjustments that we were able to make," said Masterson. "It should lead us in the right direction. It's not going to be perfect, but it's going to be on the right track and give our team a chance."
Tigers: Berry makes big league debut
With Austin Jackson still suffering from an abdominal strain, outfielder Quintin Berry got called up from Triple-A Toledo to start in center field and bat leadoff Wednesday. He went 1-for-5 with a double and a run in his first Major League game.
"They put me in a position where I could [contribute], having me get here the first day here and putting me in the lineup the first day in the leadoff spot," he said. "I definitely have a lot more opportunity to do something well. I feel like when you get here, the only person who has high expectations on you is you."
Andy Dirks has hit safely in 16 of his 20 games this month, batting .360 with six doubles, three home runs and nine RBIs.
Miguel Cabrera is 7-for-15 against Masterson in his career. His only extra-base hit was a home run.
Indians: Answers on Tomlin coming
Josh Tomlin, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a right wrist injury, is scheduled to throw a 50-pitch simulated game on Thursday. Following the workout, Cleveland will likely make a determination as to whether Tomlin is recovered enough to be activated.
Shin-Soo Choo is 8-for-39 (.205) with a home run, three RBIs and 16 strikeouts in his career against Verlander. Choo had a nine-game hitting streak snapped Tuesday night, as he went 0-for-4 in the Indians' 4-2 win.
The Indians will look for their first series sweep of the Tigers since April 29-May 1, 2011.