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Verlander sullies White Sox, Astros stroll to 5-1 triumph

Astros’ ace takes no-hitter into the seventh, strikes out season-high 12

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Verlander was dominant Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox. If not for one misplaced pitch, his performance may have been legendary.

No matter, the Houston Astros will be just fine settling with an eight-inning, one-hit masterpiece from their ace righthander, who led them to a 5-1 victory over the White Sox.

In his 45th career start against Chicago’s Southsiders, Verlander came out dealing. He started the night with two strikeouts in an 11-pitch first inning. Verlander went on to punch out nine of the first 13 hitters he faced and his only blemish through Chicago’s first 20 batters was a walk to Yonder Alonso.

Verlander registered his 11th strikeout to start the seventh inning and was only eight outs away from the glory of a third no-hitter. But Jose Abreu spoiled things with a long home run to dead center.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Verlander recovered to retire the next five batters he faced, working eight marvelous innings and allowing just one run and a single hit to go with a season-high 12 strikeouts.

Verlander’s performance did allow him to join some legendary company, after all.

The major key for Verlander Tuesday night was the effectiveness of his slider, which may have never been better.

Yuli Gurriel started the scoring with a solo home run to the opposite field in the fourth inning. The Astros have homered in 18 straight games, one off the franchise record set in 2017.

The Astros widened their lead with a patient approach in the fifth inning. Three consecutive full-count walks loaded the bases with no outs and the dangerous Alex Bregman at the plate. A wild pitch allowed Tony Kemp to dash home to put the Astros ahead, 2-0.

Chicago White Sox v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Bregman was eventually able to coax the Astros fourth straight walk to load the bases again.

Michael Brantley poked a two-run double the other way to give the Astros a 4-0 lead. Carlos Correa then smoked a single up the middle and the Astros were up 5-0.

The Astros worked six full counts in the bottom of the fifth inning, which lasted over 30 minutes, and forced White Sox pitchers to toss more than 50 pitches. In all, the Astros took six walks in the game.

White Sox starter Dylan Covey (0-3, 5.31) allowed four runs on four hits and four walks in four innings. Covey was yanked by manager Rick Renteria in the middle of an at-bat in the fifth inning after surrendering consecutive walks and falling behind the next batter 2-0.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Verlander (8-1, 2.24) has allowed only two runs and four hits total in his last three starts (22 IP) and has 29 strikeouts in that span. He’s allowed one run or less in seven of his last eight starts, has permitted only 10 runs total during that span, and has pitched at least six innings in each of those outings. Verlander ranks second in the American League with 8 wins, one behind Yankees’ starter Domingo German (who defeated Baltimore Tuesday).

Abreu, who came into the game hitting .366 (15-for-41) against Verlander, has always been one of the most difficult matchups for the Astros’ righthander.

Verlander has allowed 12 home runs in 10 starts this season, though 10 longballs have been of the solo variety.

Hector Rondon struck out two batters in a hitless ninth inning.

The Astros have allowed the White Sox to record just one run and seven hits in the first 18 innings of the series. Houston is now an MLB-best 18-4 at home and has won 15 of 17 games overall.

Aledmys Diaz collected two hits in his first game since experiencing hamstring discomfort last week in Boston. In only 45 games played, Correa is nearly halfway to the 65 RBI he produced in an injury-plagued 110 games last season.

The Astros hope George Springer (lower back stiffness) will be able to get some baseball-related work in tomorrow. Word is he still may not be game-ready until the Boston series later in the week.

Only three pitchers (Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, and Bob Feller) have thrown three or more no-hitters in their career.

Box score and videos here.

The Astros continue their four-game series with the White Sox Wednesday night. Gerrit Cole (4-4, 3.56) will oppose Ivan Nova (2-4, 7.42). First pitch is slated for 7:10 CT.