This, y’all, is forever known as the Jon Singleton game. End of story.
Well, not the end of this story as we do have a lot to cover. As you all know, Justin Verlander was due to make his first appearance at Minute Maid Park since the Astros brought him back at the trade deadline. He was the story heading into the game. Little did we know that a former top prospect in Singleton would take center stage with not only one mammoth home run but two.
A combined 779 feet of distance from Singleton’s pair of home runs, or nearly 144 Altuves. Even more impressive is the history that the first baseman made in the process.
Singleton hadn't hit an MLB HR in 8 years prior to his 2 tonight. That's the longest home run drought snapped with a multi-HR game in MLB history.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 12, 2023
Before Singleton, no player had even gone 6 years without hitting a home run and then hit multiple in a game. pic.twitter.com/Hku0cGDIRC
With José Abreu dealing with a back ailment, Singleton figures to remain in the equation for playing time at first base in the meantime. Even if Abreu’s absence is relatively short, we also saw how Singleton’s left-handed bat provides a bit more depth from a bench sorely lacking. While his ultimate role may not become much more than that, Singleton’s return to this stage following his difficult journey back is worth admiring.
Outside of Singleton’s offensive contributions, the Astros actually didn’t see much production from their usual heavy hitters. Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Kyle Tucker went a combined 0-for-10 with two walks. But Yainer Díaz contributed with two hits, including a double, and two runs. Jeremy Peña and Martín Maldonado also had a combined six hits and drove in three runs. All said and done, Houston’s bats did most of their damage in the game’s first four innings, scoring 10 of their 11 runs. Jose Altuve’s RBI single in the bottom eighth capped off of a strong night for the lineup.
On the pitching side, Verlander didn’t have his best stuff, but the results nonetheless were encouraging (6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO). The right-hander had 13 whiffs on the evening, eight from his four-seam and five from his slider. Kendall Graveman, Rafael Montero, Phil Maton, and Ryne Stanek combined for three scoreless innings. The only hit occurred when Eduardo Escobar hit a comebacker toward Maton, striking the right-hander on the elbow and knocking him out of the game.
It is worth pointing out that Montero has been pitching more effectively as of late, with a 2.16 ERA in his last 16 2⁄3 innings. Alas, a 5.18 FIP doesn’t inspire too much confidence in the veteran reliever. But any positive results have at least alleviated the strain on the club’s top relievers by limiting their workloads in recent weeks, especially in games like this one.