Can one shark alone engage in a feeding frenzy, or does it take a village of sharks?
It takes a village.
Tonight the other fishes in the Astros’ village stayed in their coves, leaving it to Great White Tyler White to produce both Astros’ runs with another home run in the bottom of the ninth, his second such in two nights. It was not nearly enough, but it did keep the Astros from getting shut out by the stumbling Los Angeles Angels.
Once again lame bats cost Justin Verlander another loss on his season record. Truly a shame, for he was overpowering for five innings, and was much better than the 3 earned runs in 5.1 innings charged to him would indicate. In those innings he struck out 11 batters, threw 68 strikes out of 99 pitches. Eighteen of those strikes were of the swing and miss variety. Perhaps most importantly, Verlander avoided his recent bubaboo; the long ball.
His ERA for the season going into tonight was fourth in the AL at 2.72, and he took over first place in strikeouts tonight. And yet his record is 13-9, pitching for a first place club.
Verlander cruised for five innings but in the sixth he allowed Kole Calhoun to open with a double, and with one out Mike Trout singled. Justin Upton singled Calhoun home, which chased Verlander from the game.
Tony Sipp walked Shohei Ohtani, and then the game’s killer blow came from an Andrelton Simmons three run double off Will Harris. Two of those runs were charged to Verlander.
The Angels added another run in the eighth when Chris Devenski, just back from the DL, balked in a run. It was an unearned run because the runner who scored had gotten to third on a passed ball.
Here’s Justin Verlander’s comments on the game.
Justin Verlander postgame pic.twitter.com/ytXi4vaby2— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) August 31, 2018
The Astros had only seven hits tonight, two each by Jose Altuve and Tyler White. The team had three ground into double plays, increasing their league lead to 133 in this dubious category.
Is it time to worry about Carlos Correa? Since returning from the DL on August 10th he is hitting .172 with a wRC+ of 29. It’s getting harder and harder to claim he just needs to get his timing back. That should have happened long ago. In his last six games he has three hits in twenty seven at bats, those being singles.
The Angels came into this series having lost 7 of the last 8 games, whilst the Astros were the exact opposite, winning 7 of their last 8. With the pitching match up tonight, Verlander against Andrew Heaney, who has had trouble with the Astros in the past, this game needed to be notched in the win column. With two AAA pitchers likely slotted to pitch for the Astros this series on Friday and Saturday to replace injured starters, the Stros do not figure to have the starting pitching advantage they are accustomed to. The bats will probably have to do better than they did tonight if the Astros expect to keep their lead in the AL West.
Fortunately, as I write the Seattle Mariners have an overpowering lead over the Oakland A’s. Maybe the A’s are having a hangover from that last tough series just like the Astros appear to have.
Tomorrow Framber Valdez faces the Angels’ Jaime Barria.
Game time 7:10 CDT
Box score and videos here.