HOUSTON -- The focus for most of the night was on 44-year-old Rangers pitcher Bartolo Colon, who defied Father Time and carried a perfect game into the eighth inning against the defending World Series champs. Astros pitcher Justin Verlander wasn't about to take a back seat to anyone.Verlander continued his
HOUSTON -- The focus for most of the night was on 44-year-old Rangers pitcher Bartolo Colon, who defied Father Time and carried a perfect game into the eighth inning against the defending World Series champs. Astros pitcher Justin Verlander wasn't about to take a back seat to anyone.
Verlander continued his terrific start to the season by striking out 11 batters and allowing one hit -- a solo homer by Robinson Chirinos in the third inning -- in eight innings in the Rangers' 3-1 win over the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Verlander took a no-decision.
"As the outing went on, he mixed in a few breaking balls here and there and was matching Colon pitch by pitch," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "He had the one breaking ball Chirinos hit out. We didn't really control Chirinos all night. That was a good performance by J.V. with no margin for error, literally."
Chirinos also hit a two-run double off relief pitcher Hector Rondon in the 10th inning to send the Rangers to their second consecutive win over the Astros in extra innings. The Astros were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, but didn't even get a baserunner until Carlos Correa led off the eighth with a walk. After Josh Reddick's double broke up the no-hitter, Correa scored on a Yuli Gurriel sac fly to tie the game.
"Colon was perfect; Verlander was just short of perfect," Hinch said. "You're playing that game and doing as much as you can to stay in the game, thinking one baserunner is going to lead to two baserunners. There's a lot of talk about what he was doing against us, what our game plan was as the game was going on. That's about it."
Colon pitched 7 2/3 innings and gave up one hit, one run, one walk and struck out seven. Verlander and Colon were the first opposing starting pitchers in the live-ball era to combine for at least 18 strikeouts and two or fewer hits allowed.
"It's fun, but at the same time, you're hoping for some runs there," Verlander said. "I kind of go down in the tunnel to get away from the atmosphere and stuff and want to decompress, so you can see some of the pitches on the replay. He was painting, you know? It's like, 'What are you going to do?' You've got to tip your cap. He did an excellent job tonight of keeping our guys off balance and not giving anybody anything to hit."
Through four starts, Verlander has been as dominant as he was last season with the Astros. He's struck out 34 batters in 26 2/3 innings with a 1.35 ERA. But even when he's on his game, it wasn't enough for the Astros.
"You just keep pitching," he said. "I think you're with the understanding that if you give up another run, the game is probably over, and if you keep them there, you have a chance to win. That's my mentality. At one point, I thought of the old adage, 'Solo home runs don't kill you," and I was thinking one hit, a solo home run, was about to kill me. I was able to lock it down after that home run and execute my pitches and keep us in there."
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Reddick not only had the Astros' first hit of the game in the eighth inning, but he made a high-flying catch in right-center field in the seventh to rob Adrian Beltre of a hit. George Springer was converging on the ball from center field, but deferred to Reddick to make the catch without communication.
"I'm glad he backed off, and when I got up we both looked at each other and I tipped my hat for him for backing off," Reddick said. "We do so well out there without communicating, just picking up each other up and knowing where each other is at the same time. We have a pretty good idea, and once we realized I was the one going for it, he backed off and backed me up."
HE SAID IT
"It's about time to turn on the hitting machines on this clubhouse. There's a lot of guys here that can do a lot of damage and we haven't been able to do that, but we've been there where we start slow and pick up the pace. For us, that time is now." -- Correa, on the Astros' offense, which hit .210 as the team went 5-5 over the last 10 games
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Verlander has moved into sole possession of 39th place on baseball's all-time strikeout list with 2,450, passing Jamie Moyer (2,441) and Andy Pettitte (2,448).
The Astros send Dallas Keuchel (0-2, 4.20 ERA) to the mound for Monday's 9:10 p.m. CT series opener against James Paxton and the Mariners at Safeco Field. Keuchel has yet to pitch longer than the six innings he worked in his season debut March 30 in Arlington. He threw five innings April 4 vs. the Orioles and four innings Tuesday against the Twins.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.