This moment led to Verlander's hard-luck loss
MINNEAPOLIS -- When two pitchers are throwing the ball as effectively as Justin Verlander of the Astros and Jake Odorizzi of the Twins were Monday night, every pitch is magnified. Especially when one swing of the bat makes the difference in the game.
Twins third baseman Ehire Adrianza led off the third inning with a homer on a 3-2 pitch -- one pitch after Verlander nearly got Adrianza to strike out on a 2-2 check swing -- to back seven scoreless innings from Odorizzi in Minnesota’s 1-0 win over the Astros at Target Field.
The check swing to Adrianza that third-base umpire Doug Eddings called a ball was a topic of conversation in the Astros' clubhouse after the game.
“This game isn’t played in slow motion, and these umpires have a difficult job to do,” Verlander said. “In live speed, I thought it was a very questionable, 50-50 call. Adrianza did a good job of not breaking his hands so it didn’t look like the bat went as far as it actually did. You hate to see the game come down to something like that and for [Eddings] to be questioned on something that was so close.”
Verlander didn’t necessarily have a problem with the call at the time, but he thought it should have been a strike, especially after teammate Josh Reddick didn’t get a similar call in the ninth. Adrianza turned on the next pitch, an inside fastball, and launched it 397 feet down the right-field line.
“Tip your cap,” said Verlander, who struck out seven and allowed two hits in six innings. “He got it.”
Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos was adamant that Adrianza swung at the pitch prior to the homer. Adrianza clearly offered at the pitch and appeared to stop his bat even with the front of the plate. It could have gone either way.
“The umpire on third base said he didn’t [swing],” Chirinos said. “The next pitch was a homer. Justin did what he does best. He gave our guys us a chance to win the game.”
Reddick, batting with two outs in the ninth against Twins closer Blake Parker, tried to check his swing at the first pitch he saw and was rung up by Eddings. Verlander admitted a check swing is one of the hardest calls an umpire can make.
“Just goes to show you, man, this game, you never know what hinges on winning or losing,” Verlander said. “That one call changed the whole outcome of the game. And hey, like I said, those guys have a difficult job to do. Consistency is something they strive for and all we ask for, and I thought Redd had a very similar swing. I haven’t studied that one as much as the Adrianza one, but to my eyes, they looked pretty similar.”
Odorizzi made that homer stand up against an Astros lineup that had five singles and didn’t get a runner past second base.
"Jake did a fantastic job on the other side,” Verlander said. “He was mowing guys down. As a pitcher, you know when that's happening on the other side and unfortunately, one run felt like 10 tonight the way he was pitching. When a guy's got it going, he's got it going. I was the first one to slip up."