08/21 23:03 CDT Verlander allows 2 HRs in 2-hitter, loses 2-1 to Tigers
Verlander allows 2 HRs in 2-hitter, loses 2-1 to Tigers
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) --- Justin Verlander was splendid against the Detroit Tigers,
pitching a two-hitter and fanning 11 in another dominant performance for the
Houston's offense wasn't nearly as sharp on Wednesday night, and it led to an
unusual, tough-luck 2-1 loss.
"Just an incredible performance," manager A.J. Hinch said. "Just not one that
we could help him with. We wasted a really good start by our starting pitcher."
John Hicks and Ronny Rodriguez homered off Verlander --- the only two
baserunners he allowed.
"The two times I gave in and gave them a fastball, they hit a homer on it,"
said Verlander, who has been critical of Major League Baseball for what he
believes are intentional changes to the ball that have led to more home runs.
"Baseball in 2019. I didn't go out of the stretch at all the entire game, and
we lost. I don't know what else to say."
With Verlander on the mound at home against the worst team in the majors, the
Astros were more than a 5-1 favorite, one of the biggest favorites in an MLB
game that Las Vegas oddsmakers could remember.
Hicks led off the ninth with a tiebreaking blast to left-center field off
Verlander (15-5), who leads the majors in strikeouts with 239 but ranks second
in homers allowed with 33.
Hicks has a long history with Verlander. His brother Daniel went to high school
with him and was in his wedding to supermodel Kate Upton in 2017.
"It's surreal for sure," Hicks said. "I remember being 10 years old watching
him and my brother play in high school and watching him dominate."
Verlander retired the first 14 batters, with six strikeouts, before Rodriguez
homered to the seats in right with two outs in the fifth. The veteran
right-hander sat down another 10 straight before Hicks connected.
"That's the biggest win for us in a long, long time, especially against a
premium team like that, a World Series contender and Verlander on the mound,"
Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said. "In Detroit we got him last year at the
All-Star break and we got him again, but we really didn't get him very much
Verlander, who spent 13 seasons with the Tigers, didn't fault the offense.
"I don't blame anybody but myself," he said. "I could have done a better job
executing pitches there in the ninth inning."
He threw 99 pitches and extended his franchise record of games with 10 or more
strikeouts to seven as he lost for the first time since June 18.
Robinson Chirinos belted his 14th homer to left-center on Tyler Alexander's
first pitch of the seventh to tie it at 1. Chirinos finished with four hits.
Needing a triple for the cycle, he doubled with two outs in the ninth but was
thrown out trying to reach third to end the game.
"When you make a mistake like that, you don't deserve to win the game,"
Opener Daniel Norris allowed two hits in three innings for Detroit. Alexander
worked four innings, Buck Farmer (5-4) walked one in a scoreless eighth and Joe
Jimenez finished the Tigers' six-hitter for his fourth save.
Jose Altuve walked with one out in the eighth, but was erased when he tried to
go first to third on an infield grounder by Alex Bregman to end the inning.
Astros: RHP Josh James (shoulder soreness) will begin a rehabilitation
assignment with Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday night. Hinch said James, who
has been out since July 23, likely won't rejoin the team until September. ...
INF Aledmys Daz took batting practice on Wednesday and could come off the
injured list early next week. Daz was hospitalized Aug. 17 after experiencing
dizziness on the team bus in Oakland.
NATURE BOY CALLS
Houston outfielder Josh Reddick, who has used WWE star Ric Flair's signature
yell of "Woooo!" for years instead of walk-up music, hosted the flamboyant
Flair at the game on Wednesday night. Reddick, who had a day off on Wednesday,
donned a wrestling robe and championship belt when he came on the field during
batting practice to greet the 70-year-old. Flair was decked out in gold
jewelry, including necklaces, a bracelet and a blinged-out watch, and wore a
white Astros jersey with his nickname, "Nature Boy," printed on the back.
Reddick called Flair his hero and the wrestler was asked to describe the
"He's married now, but before he was married ... Josh Reddick would have been a
kiss-stealing, wheeling-dealing, limousine-riding, jet-flying, home run-hitting
Houston Astro," Flair said.
Flair bounced the ceremonial first pitch to Reddick, who was crouched behind
Tigers: RHP Jordan Zimmermann (1-8, 6.66 ERA) is scheduled to start for Detroit
when the series wraps up on Thursday night. Zimmermann allowed just one hit in
five scoreless innings in his last start against Tampa Bay, but did not factor
in the decision.
Astros: RHP Gerrit Cole (14-5, 2.87) will start on Thursday after being
scratched from his last start on Aug. 15 because of discomfort in his right
hamstring. Cole, who ranks second in the majors with 226 strikeouts, has won
his last 10 decisions.
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