HOUSTON – Astros pitcher Justin Verlander wasn’t in the mood to say no, and who could blame him? The White Sox hit a total of eight shots in the third and fourth innings at Minneapolis Park on Saturday afternoon, knocking him out of the game after his second-shortest starting 3 2/3 innings in the Astros uniform.
In the 7-0 defeat of the White Sox, Verlander dropped nine hits – seven singles – and seven runs (four earned), which stopped the Astros on three singles in one day after dropping 13 runs with five homers. Verlander was 7-2 with a 2.32 ERA in his last 13 starts against the White Sox, and he batted in the first two innings on Saturday before things went awry.
“Look, I have to give credit where credit is due,” Verlander said. “They were hitting the ball hard and where there were no people, but they were looking for barrels. I’m not going to sit here and say they’re hitting. He had a good vision and it worked well. “
A two-run single with a loaded base by Lewis Roberts and a two-run double by Jose Abreu in the third gave the White Sox a 4-0 lead, and a two-out error from second baseman Jose Altuev at number four helped. Chicago crossed three more runs, with Robert’s two-run double. The White Sox did well by battling some inside fastballs and sticking to some offspeed stuff against the whirlwind.
“I have a lot of respect for him,” said Tony La Rusa, manager of the White Sox. “We know you have to stick to the ball because it’s a Hall of Famer for me, so I thought it was a very intelligent approach. Let’s go. “
Verlander (8-3) made his shortest start after making two innings against the Mariners on 9 August 2018. He threw 81 pitches on Saturday but only got eight swings and misses, including 27 fastballs.
“I still don’t know the origin of the problem,” Verlander said when asked about his fastball. “It simply came to our notice then. I looked at my stuff later and it seemed normal, so I wouldn’t say [fastball] was the problem, no. Heaters at this level are also really good, so this could be a situation where you give credit where credit is due. “
The White Sox did not destroy the ball accurately against Verlander. Despite Robert’s 107.2 mph two-run single in the third, Verlander averaged 92.6 mph exit speeds on nine hits. Third, Danny Mendic, Andrew Vaughn and Robert each rolled through the holes on the right side of the singles infield, indicating their approach to the other side.
“Most of those hits, the first six of them, were in the opposite area,” said Dusty Baker, Astros manager. “They were hitting 3-4 holes there and they were all with two strikes. I don’t know if it was their game plan, but they did put that hole in it. Other hits were below the third-base line. They were mostly ground balls; There were a few line drives, but there were a lot of ground balls. He is throwing the ball well, but today he could not keep them away. “
Verlander hit just three wickets, but that gave him 3,094 strikeouts for his career and allowed him to pass to CC Sabathia and move up to 16th on the list of all-time strikeouts. He has now hit more batsmen than any other pitcher in this century (since 2000).