ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Houston Astros gave up three prospects for Justin Verlander because they wanted a stopper for their World Series chase. After just two starts, the star right-hander is already giving them exactly what they need while they tune up for October.
Verlander pitched eight innings of one-hit ball, and the Astros snapped their four-game skid with a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
Verlander (12-8) struck out nine in another overpowering performance for his new team. He held the Angels without a hit after Brandon Phillips’ leadoff double in the first, allowing only Mike Trout to reach base on a walk and a hit by pitch.
“It feels good,” Verlander said. “On a night when we really needed it after a tough series and an off day to reset, those are the kind of things that make you feel really good. I got in a rhythm, was able to have a couple of quick innings and just go from there.”
Verlander pitched six innings of one-run ball in Seattle during his Houston debut last week. The Astros got swept in a four-game series at Oakland last weekend, but the six-time All-Star put them right back on course.
“He loves the moment,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “He was in complete control. Coming off the day off, it doesn’t surprise me that he was going to set the tone.”
Yuli Gurriel’s second-inning single drove in the only run for the Astros (87-57), who lowered their magic number for clinching the AL West title to five by blanking the second-place Angels (73-71).
Los Angeles has lost four of five to fall two games behind Minnesota (75-69) for the second AL wild card.