Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Houston Astros
news

Astros News

JV tames familiar foe in Astros' 8th straight win

May 16, 2019

DETROIT -- Justin Verlander's Wednesday night start at Comerica Park was similar to what Tigers fans have been accustomed to seeing from the right-hander for more than a decade. Like clockwork, the 36-year-old veteran received a sign and went through his delivery. He mixed a mid-90s fastball with nearly unhittable

DETROIT -- Justin Verlander's Wednesday night start at Comerica Park was similar to what Tigers fans have been accustomed to seeing from the right-hander for more than a decade.

Like clockwork, the 36-year-old veteran received a sign and went through his delivery. He mixed a mid-90s fastball with nearly unhittable offspeed pitches, leaving many batters walking back to the dugout after striking out. The only difference was that the hitters Verlander faced were in Tigers uniforms.

In his third career start against his former team of 13 seasons, Verlander continued his dominant 2019 by holding the Tigers to one run on two hits while striking out nine across seven innings, as the Astros swept the Tigers and extended their winning streak to eight games with a 5-1 victory.

Box score

Verlander notched his 99th career win at Comerica Park, more than twice as many as any other pitcher (Washington's Max Scherzer is second with 46). His second trip to Detroit as a visitor brought back a mix of emotions.

“Definitely still a bit nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time,” Verlander said. “The fans were fantastic, except this one guy in the first inning that yelled, 'You suck!' Besides him, the fans were great. It’s always a special moment coming back here."

Verlander (7-1), a seven-time All-Star, was dominant from the start, retiring the first eight batters before giving up a two-out home run to JaCoby Jones in the third inning.

"To hit a homer off of him, that’s pretty cool,” Jones said. “I wish we had gotten the win, but he did his job tonight. He kept us off-balance and threw a good game."

After Jones’ homer, Verlander retired the next six before getting into a bases-loaded jam in the fifth. Josh Harrison started the attempted rally with a two-out triple into the left-center-field alley.

Verlander issued back-to-back walks before escaping the inning with a 3-1 lead after second baseman Aledmys Diaz robbed Niko Goodrum of a hit. Goodrum lined a 96.3 mph fastball directly into the outstretched glove of Diaz, despite a 105.8 mph exit velocity. Per Statcast, the line drive had a 74-percent hit probability.

“He pitched around a couple walks that hurt him, and then he just kind of dialed it in and got the outs when he needed to,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said of Verlander. “But very rarely do you see him get into trouble after two outs and nobody on. … But if they didn’t get him that inning, they weren’t going to get him tonight.”

Jake Marisnick paced the Astros' offense, going 2-for-3 with a single, triple and two RBIs. Alex Bregman opened the scoring in the first with a solo homer, his 14th of the season and ninth in May.

“It’s a testament to how good this lineup is,” said Marisnick, who finished the series 4-for-6 with a home run and four RBIs. “I mean, it’s a dangerous lineup. It’s long. We make pitchers work all the way through.”

The Astros' five runs marked their fewest since a 3-0 win over the Rangers last Friday. However, during their eight-game winning streak, they own a 66-17 run differential.

“This is a really good series for us,” Hinch said. “Obviously, we’re on a good stretch where we’re playing extremely well and tough to beat.”

Especially Verlander, who has a 2.03 ERA over his last 53 1/3 innings, spanning his last eight starts. In that span, he has 64 strikeouts, 12 walks and 26 hits allowed.

But for those who’ve seen the ace throughout the years, it’s nothing new.

"I mean, gosh, the guy throws the ball, he’s unbelievable,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s got great velo, has a great feel for what a hitter’s looking for. And he made it tough on us. We ended up with two hits -- a triple and a home run. That’s it for the night. That’s a very good pitching staff over there, and it was tough."