The Astros followed up Saturday’s combined no-hitter with another dominant pitching performance, this time led by Justin Verlander. The offense wasn’t quite as dominant as it was in the first two games, but it didn’t need to be, and the Astros polished off a dominant weekend sweep of the Mariners with a 3-1 win.
For a little while, it looked like we might be dealing with back-to-back no-hitters, because Justin Verlander was locked in. The first eight hitters in Seattle’s lineup all went down in order, and through three innings, Verlander had already struck out six batters while walking one.
Even when the Mariners broke up the no-hitter the following inning on a Kyle Seager cue-shot against the shift that hit third base, it didn’t do too much to slow Justin down. In the end, Kyle Seager also wound up being what chased Verlander from the game, leading off the seventh inning with a solo shot, but that was all of the offense they could muster.
In the end, JV’s line wound up being 6.0-plus innings, just three hits and one run allowed, and two walks against ten strikeouts. That made for his seventh double-digit strikeout game on the year, and his fourth in a row, as well as moving him past the 200 K mark on the season. He now sits just another ten behind league-leader Gerrit Cole, and thirteen ahead of non-Astro leader Chris Sale.
And in non-K territory, today marked his fifteenth win of the season, moving him into sole possession of first place, and it maintained his already AL-leading ERA and MLB-leading WHIP at 2.68 and 0.81, respectively. And for those tracking his career milestones, today moves him to 2912 whiffs and 219 wins, the latter of which ties him with Pedro Martinez and Kenny Rogers for 79th all-time.
Once again, the lead was turned over to three relievers, and once again, all three turned in strong, scoreless innings. Joe Smith entered after the Seager home run in the seventh and got two strikeouts. J.P. Crawford hit a ground ball single, but he wound up being the Mariners’ last baserunner of the night. Will Harris appeared again and threw another scoreless inning while striking out two, and Roberto Osuna closed it out with a one-K ninth in his first appearance since July 30th. With that, the Astros finished what was not only a sweep of Seattle, but an entire series in which the M’s totaled just seven hits over three games.
There was offense, as well, of course, although a lot less than the last two nights. The Astros were held hitless against opener Sam Tuivailala and headliner Tommy Milone until the fourth inning, when Alex Bregman recorded a leadoff single, Yordan Álvarez doubled, and Carlos Correa drove in Bregman on an infield single that looked a little like the one Seager hit to break up the no-no. The baseball gods apparently felt a little whimsical today.
Unfortunately, the Astros stranded Álvarez and Correa, but they would pick up a few more runs on a pair of sac flies in the sixth and seventh (with some assists via the Mariners’ pitching staff). In the sixth, Bregman doubled and reached third on a wild pitch. There was a brief injury scare when Yordan fouled a ball off of his knee and crumpled, but after visits from the staff, he stayed in the game and almost drove one out to deep center.
With one leg, the most casual 400-foot sac fly you'll ever see. pic.twitter.com/sFtBTJfD40— Houston Astros (@astros) August 4, 2019
The sac fly on the seventh was mostly due to Jake Marisnick’s legs, when he singled, stole second on the first pitch he was aboard for, made it to third on yet another wild pitch, and came around on a shallow fly ball to left off the bat of Josh Reddick. The run wound up being unnecessary to secure the win, but it was nice insurance at the time.
The Astros head into a Monday off-day sitting at 73-40, a .646 winning percentage that has them tentatively in first in the American League (pending the results of tonight’s Red Sox-Yankees game, and tied with the Dodgers for best record in the Majors (pending the outcome of their game with the Padres, currently tied at 6 through four innings). Oakland is nine games out of first in the AL West. Tuesday will see Houston kick off a two game set with Colorado in town; Zack Greinke will make his Astros debut at 7:10 PM CDT facing off against German Márquez.