Sometimes baseball doesn’t make sense. In three previous games against Texas this year, Justin Verlander has pitched 20 innings, allowed two runs and has 23 strikeouts. Before tonight his record against the Rangers was 1-1.
And yet tonight he gets the victory, surrendering more runs than in the 3 previous games combined. Though notching a quality start, it is only the second time all year that he has allowed as many as three earned runs in a game. For ERA league leading Justin Verlander (1.45) that’s a terrible game, but for the team it’s the 40th victory of the season, and Verlander’s eighth win against two losses. He only had 9 strikeouts to boot. (Three against fellow future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre.)
Some would say the Ranger’s were damn lucky to score two of their runs this night. No doubt Shin-Soo-Chu earned the first run, a home run on Verlander’s first pitch. But in the third DeLino DeShields got a double on catchable fly ball, followed by a walk, and then a two run double to Nomar Mazara. For some reason, according to the Statcast strike zone, the umpire chose to call two or three pitches balls that were clearly in the strike zone, giving Mazara second chances, which to his credit he eventually took advantage of. That’s baseball too.
The Astros got to Rangers starter and losing pitcher Doug Fister with 4 runs in the second, highlighted by a Marwin Gonzalez RBI single, another by Tony Kemp, and followed by a George Springer two run double. The inning would end with an Alex Bregman ground out in which George Springer was thrown out in a run down at home, and then Bregman was thrown out trying to advance to second.
It was one of two double plays this night against the Astros, and the fourth straight game in which they have been doubled up at least two times. They lead the league in double plays with 58.
Alex Bregman added another run in the fifth with a rocket home run to straight away center, his eighth of the year and second in two nights.
Jose Altuve would complete the scoring with a two run home run in the seventh just over the right center field fence, his fifth, and his second hit of the night. Altuve leads the league with a .415 road batting average
Collin McHugh came in for Verlander in the seventh inning and spun two perfect innings in relief. Will Harris closed the game with a perfect ninth.
The Astros and Rangers match up tomorrow night for the third game of this four game series. Charlie Morton (7-1, 2.84 ERA) will try to recover from last Sunday’s shellacking at the hands of the Red Sox by going against Mike Minor. (4-4, 5.76 ERA).
Game time 6:15 CDT
Game will be nationally televised on Fox.
Watch Tony Kemp run 121 feet to catch a foul ball below.
It was the longest distance any Astro outfielder has run for a catch all year.
Box score and videos here.