SEATTLE (AP) – Justin Verlander threw eight innings of three-hit ball to lead the Houston Astros to the victory over Seattle Mariners 4-0 in the first of four weekend games at Minute Maid Park.
Martín Maldonado provided the offense with a two-run homer for his first hit of the season in his first game with the Houston Astros since signing as a free agent.
After watching Seattle roll up 11 runs against Houston pitching a day earlier, Verlander (1-1 despite a 6.23 ERA) looked to be back in the form that earned him the 2019 AL Cy Young award. Verlander allowed three hits and one run in six innings in his first victory since beating Seattle on July 24, 2020 on the opening day of the shortened 2020 season. Verlander underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow following that game.
Verlander threw eight innings for the first time in 40 starts since Sept. 1 (non-no hitter) 2019 when he no-hit the Toronto Blue Jays. The only hits he allowed to Seattle was Frazier’s single to lead off the game and France’s singles in the 4th and 6th.
Verlander turned in another dominant outing on Saturday, striking out eight and walking zero batters in five innings. Verlander pitched well in his season debut last week against the Angels (six innings, eight strikeouts, no walks), but was outdueled by fellow Tommy John recoveree Noah Syndergaard.
Maldonado had gone hitless in his first 15 at-bats this season, but he had a strong game on Saturday night. He drove a pitch to deep left field for a solo home run in the fifth inning and later added an RBI single in the seventh. Jeremy Peña started the fifth inning with a sharp single off Mets starter Chris Flexen, who was making his second start of the season after being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse.
Flexen did not let the Astros run away with the game the way they did in their first meeting. In fact, Flexen (0-2) nearly matched zeros with Verlander until giving up the long ball. Flexen scattered five hits and struck out three. The Mariners have yet to score this season while Flexen was on the mound.
Astros: Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow announced today that the club has placed right-handed pitcher Ryan Pressly, who was recently acquired via trade, on the 10-day injured list due to right knee inflammation. Pressly returned to Houston for additional examination. To take Pressly’s roster spot, the Astros have selected left-handed pitcher Parker Mushinski from Triple A Fresno (Pacific Coast League). The Astros also reinstated outfielder Derek Fisher from the 10-day injured list.
Mariners: The Mariners placed outfielder Mitch Haniger on the 7-day concussion disabled list Saturday morning, retroactive to Thursday. To take his place on the 25-man roster, Seattle recalled infielder Donovan Walton from Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday morning.
Astros: José Urquidy pitched great against the Angels in his first start. The young right hander allowed just one run over five innings despite giving up four hits.
Mariners: 26-year-old RHP Matt Brash (0-1, 3.38) is making his second start of his big league career and first since April 6th vs. the White Sox. Brash threw 5 1/3 innings while allowing two runs in his debut earlier this week against the White Sox. He didn’t factor into the decision after allowing four hits and five walks while striking out three.