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Verlander leads Astros to sweep of M’s

Houston starters are 14-1 with a 1.79 ERA in past 17 games
@brianmctaggart
August 4, 2019

HOUSTON -- There’s not much that can stop the Astros these days. Certainly not the Mariners, who went 15 innings without a hit in the middle of the three-game series at Minute Maid Park and were served another reminder of how terrific Houston’s starting pitching is in the process. One

HOUSTON -- There’s not much that can stop the Astros these days. Certainly not the Mariners, who went 15 innings without a hit in the middle of the three-game series at Minute Maid Park and were served another reminder of how terrific Houston’s starting pitching is in the process.

One day after Aaron Sanchez and three relievers combined for a no-hitter on Saturday, Justin Verlander held the Mariners to one run and three hits while striking out 10 batters in six-plus innings to lead the Astros to a 3-1 win on Sunday afternoon and a sweep of the series.

Box score

“I’ve always felt really good when we can roll a good starting pitcher out there and get into the game,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “We have some really good names, but more importantly we have some really good guys who produce and go out there and set an excellent tone for us.”

The Astros (73-40) won for the 14th time in their past 17 games, improving to 12-1 against Seattle this year. Houston outscored the Mariners, 22-3, in the series.

“We pitched extremely well,” Hinch said. “That goes without saying, just given the results. Everything from the attention to detail to the game planning, to the execution, to bullpen coming in and getting huge outs, it’s a really good stretch for us. One of the things we pride ourselves on is preparation, and leading up to this series, it’s been excellent.”

Behind Verlander, Astros starters improved to 14-1 with a 1.79 ERA in the team’s past 17 games, allowing just 63 hits in 105 1/3 innings. And there is no respite in sight for the Astros’ opposition.

Former American League Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke -- acquired in a surprising deal with the D-backs at Wednesday's Trade Deadline -- will make his Astros debut on Tuesday against the Rockies. Following him will be June's AL Pitcher of the Month, Gerrit Cole, who is also garnering AL Cy Young Award consideration.

“It’s pretty incredible,” Verlander said. “You stay in your lane and try to keep doing what’s making you great, but at the same time you appreciate everything that’s going on around you. Gerrit is still going about his business like myself. Zack, when he got here, has stepped right in and started going about his routine. Aaron came in with a bunch of questions and we see what that led to. Let’s not forget about Wade [Miley] and what he’s been doing.

“I think each guy, when you create a competitive atmosphere like we have here, you want to go out and compete against the best in the world, and we have a lot of the best in the world here right in our starting rotation. It’s fun to go out and watch these guys compete.”

Verlander (15-4, 2.68 ERA) remains the ace of Houston’s star-studded staff, though. He wasn’t at his best Sunday, but he still managed to not allow a hit until Kyle Seager’s dribbler with two outs in the fourth and wasn’t scored upon until Seager led off the seventh with a homer.

“It’s kind of hard not to just drool over what he can do in general, but then he didn’t really stay in sync and he still punched out double digits,” Hinch said. “Good day for him to get out of there a little bit early, given how I saw he was feeling and executing. It’s pretty nice when a decent day is a 10-punchout, one-run game.”

Houston, which blasted six homers in Friday’s series opener, saw its 16-game home run streak ended. Carlos Correa drove in a run with an infield hit in the fourth, and Yordan Alvarez (sixth) and Josh Reddick (seventh) added sac flies.

“We found a way to do just enough,” Hinch said.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.