It is customary for starting pitchers who begin a new series with no off-day to fly ahead of the team to be better rested for his start. If so, it was probably a good thing Justin Verlander didn't see the debacle that cost the Astros Sunday in Cleveland.
Davis: Admires handiwork
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Verlander knew anyway he would need to pitch deep in his Monday Memorial Day start in order to rest the bullpen and limit New York's chances to build a big inning.
That formula worked well as Houston shut down the Bronx Bombers, 5-1, in Gotham before 46,583 at Yankee Stadium. Unlike the day before, Ken Giles was able to lock down the ninth inning even though it was not technically a save situation. It probably felt like one.
Verlander worked 6-2/3rd innings on 113 pitches, giving up a solo homer to Greg Bird as well as four other hits while striking out five.
Will Harris came in to fan Miguel Andujar for the final out in the seventh with a runner on second.
Chris Devenski and the aforementioned Giles tossed a scoreless eighth and ninth although both allowed hits during their stints.
Verlander upped his record to 7-2 and has now pitched six consecutive games with one or less earned runs allowed. His ERA is a league-leading 1.11.
J.D. Davis gave Verlander all the cushion he needed. The injury call-up followed a single and a walk with his first big league homer of the year. He drilled a 3-1 fastball from Domingo German about eight rows deep into the left field corner for a 3-0 advantage.
In the fourth, Evan Gattis added another tally with a liner down the left field line that chased home Yuli Gurriel. Marwin Gonzalez was thrown out at third trying to advance on the play.
After Bird's homer in the seventh, Jose Altuve pushed the lead back to four with an eighth-inning solo shot into the left field stands over the auxiliary scoreboard to make it a 5-1 final.
Houston (35-20) needed the win to stay a game ahead of Seattle (33-20) in the AL West after the red-hot Mariners edged the Rangers on Monday.
On Tuesday, the Astros hand the ball to Charlie Morton (7-0) in a 6:05 Central start. Morton defeated the Yanks on April 30th in a gem, tossing 7-2/3rd innings of two-hit ball. Veteran lefthander C.C. Sabathia (2-1) gets the start for 33-17 New York.
- Bob Hulsey