The Houston Astros got their measure of payback against the Oakland A’s on Saturday afternoon with 39,125 in attendance at Minute Maid Park.
Justin Verlander is already having one of the best seasons of his sure-fire, slam-dunk first-ballot Hall-of-Fame career. On Saturday, he added to his already major league leading victory total with his 12th against only three losses.
Verlander dropped his ERA to 1.89 with six scoreless innings of work. He’s now second in the American League to Tampa Bay Ray Shane McClanahan’s 1.71. Verlander put 73-of-106 pitches over the plate and issued zero walks. Although he did uncork one wild pitch, he also got 10 Athletics to strike out.
The A’s actually outhit Houston seven hits to six, but they couldn’t break through against Verlander or the three relievers that followed him with a scoreless inning each. Phil Maton worked a perfect seventh, whiffing two, Hector Neris followed with a perfect eighth striking one out, and Bryan Abreu struck out the side in the ninth, despite allowing a hit and the only Astros walk of the day.
Martin Maldonado made one of his more significant offensive contributions in the second inning. With the bases loaded and two out, he drove his ninth long-ball of the season to center field. Yuli Gurriel, Jake Meyers, and Chas McCormick all came home on the shot. Maldonado’s shot traveled 416 feet and was a game-high 106.1 MPH off the bat.
McCormick singled home Aledmys Diaz in the fourth inning to make it 5-0 Astros, a score that would remain through the rest of the contest.
- Astros pitching struck out a total of 16 while issuing only one free pass. Compare that to Oakland’s four and two, respectively.
- Nobody on the Astros whiffed more than once, but the only multi-hit game was enjoyed by Gurriel with a pair of singles.
- Maldonado’s moon shot was Houston’s only extra base hit of the game. His batting average improved to .169, while his OPS ballooned to .576.
- Jared Koenig (1-3, 6.39) was the losing pitcher of record. Making only his fifth career start, he allowed all five runs on six hits and two walks over seven innings. His low pitch count contributed to his in-game longevity. He only took 86 pitches, putting 59 over the plate.