If you had gone to Vegas and asked to place a bet that, by the All-Star Game, three Astros pitchers would have ten or more wins but the list would not include Justin Verlander or Dallas Keuchel, what type of odds might you have been offered? The two former Cy Young Award winners are bringing up the rear of the win column. Verlander, who announced this week that he and his supermodel wife Kate Upton are expecting their first child, faced his former team for the first time in his career on Sunday.
Closer tryouts continue with Cinderella
(c) Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle
He summed up the results as "interesting".
The Detroit Tigers held off a sweep against the Astros with a 6-3 verdict due to four homers off Verlander. Despite the pounding, Verlander lasted six innings, allowing six hits and no walks while striking out twelve.
It was sort of like a preview of Home Run Derby, which Houston's Alex Bregman will be an entrant of Monday night in Washington D.C. All or nothing.
John Hicks got the slugfest started in the second when he slammed a breaking pitch into the left-center wall for a 2-0 lead. Jeimer Candelario added a sacrifice fly for a 3-0 advantage.
Josh Reddick was involved in both early Houston runs, first as the guy who bounced into a double play when Yuli Gurriel scored from third. Then Yuli scored in the fourth when Reddick watched a wild pitch by Drew VerHagen sail by to close the gap to 3-2.
Candelario then smacked a home run to the Astros bullpen in right center in the fifth noted mostly by Reddick's Spiderman impression jumping on the padding of the fence and climbing all the way to the top in a vain attempt to catch the high fly.
In the sixth, the Kitties struck twice. First Niko Goodrum smashed a drive into the right field seats. Then Jim Adduci skied one into the Crawfords for run number six. It was the only homer that was ballpark-aided. The other three were no-doubters.
Gurriel added a sac fly in the ninth to make the 6-3 final score but the 39,455 attending probably felt a bit disappointed. The loss capped a 7-4 homestand which left Seattle five games out at the break and Oakland eight games out. Still, the Astros have the second-best record in baseball behind the Red Sox at 64-35 (.646).
The All-Star Game will be held Tuesday night and it was announced earlier that Verlander would not be pitching due to his Sunday start. Manager A.J. Hinch says Keuchel will pitch the Friday opener in Anaheim followed by Verlander on Saturday and Lance McCullers on Sunday. All-Stars Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton will face the Colorado Rockies next week.
That Friday opener against the Angels will be at 9:07 pm Central time so it will be almost a five-day break for the non-All-Stars.
Plenty of time to learn Lamaze and the right way to heat baby formula.
- Bob Hulsey