May’s AL Pitcher of the Month Justin Verlander would duel with Boston’s David Price across 6 innings of stellar pitching from both club’s starters.
Stassi and Verlander would struggle to get on the same page in the first inning and it showed as Verlander would actually have to verbally check the signs with Stassi from the mound at one point. He would surrender an RBI single to J.D. Martinez and it looked like things might be going wobbly.
He would allow Benintendi to walk to open the first, who would then advance on a wild pitch before being pushed across the plate by Martinez. JV would manage a strikeout and foul out to get out of further trouble, but would expend 24 pitches in the first inning, including 7 fouls.
But Verlander would settle in, gaining command with the fastball while retiring 14 of 15 batters through the 5th. After striking out Benintendi on his best curve of the night to start the 6th, he would walk Bogaerts who would steal second and come home on Martinez’s second RBI single of the night.
Fun Fact: Opponents had been 2 for 32 with runners in scoring position when facing Verlander coming in to this game. Martinez was 2 for 2 in such situations tonight.
Verlander would retire the next two batters and take it to the showers with 6 IP, 2 ER, 6 K’s, raising his ERA on the season to 1.24. Another excellent addition to his 2018 resume.
Meanwhile, Price would hold the line against the Astros, who were looking ready to bust out in the early going. Gurriel would single to lead off the second inning and advance on a steal on a Max Stassi strikeout. He would come home on a Marwin Gonzalez RBI triple in the next at bat before the inning ended on a a Marisnick strikeout, one of Price’s 7 K’s.
Unfortunately, Marwin would injure himself on a Benintendi flyout for the second out of the next inning and be replaced with Tony Kemp. AJ Hinch announced that he was day to day after the game.
The third inning would open with a Springer single and a Bregman bomb, where the Astros would take the lead 3 to 1. After an Altuve groundout, Correa would walk and Gurriel would get plunked on the back while running about a foot inside on the line, which is an automatic out. Gattis would fly out harmlessly to end the inning, and Price would settle in from there, retiring the final 11 batters he saw in order.
The Astros would be leading 3 to 2 as the game was turned over to the pens.
Battle of the Bullpens
Would that Justin Verlander could pitch all our innings. Alas.
Will Harris came on in the 7th throwing strikes and getting two swift outs. That would quickly turn as Vazquez hammered one to left to tie it up, his first of the year. Jackie Bradley Jr would reach on a walk before Andrew Benintendi absolutely destroyed a ball to the upper tank, chasing Will Harris.
The Red Sox would go mostly quietly from there, with Rondon allowing a walk before striking out JD Martinez. Sipp would come on in the 8th and retire the side on 2 K’s and a groundout before starting the 9th and retiring his 4th straight batter. Joe Smith would come on and allow Vazquez to get on with a walk and move over on a steal. However, Smith would extinguish the threat with a couple of quick outs.
Not so Fun Fact: Christian Vazquez had yet to homer or steal a base in 2018 before coming in to tonight’s game. He now has one of each.
Meanwhile, the Astros would make it interesting in the 8th, taking Joe Kelly for a bit of a ride. He came out pumping 100mph gas, but Altuve was able to walk and steal second and third before coming home on a Gurriel single. Yuli is now hitting over .400 with runners in scoring position and two outs this season.
Unfortunately, that would be the final threat as the final 4 Astros batters would go down in order with Kimbrel slamming the door in the 9th.
Astros Lose 5-4
Houston falls to 37-23 and is now 4-12 in one run games this year. The Astros will try to pick up a series win tomorrow before a Monday off and a two game series against the M’s.
Rick Porcello (7-2, 3.65 ERA) will face off against Charlie Morton (7-0, 2,26 ERA). Astros draw the ESPN Sunday night game for the second time in three weeks with first pitch set for 6:35 pm CDT.
Box Score here.