EditorsNote: fixes to "Wednesday" in last graf
Justin Verlander worked six shutout innings, and Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez hit back-to-back home runs as the host Houston Astros inched closer to securing a postseason berth with a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.
Verlander (19-6) allowed four hits and two walks while recording eight strikeouts. He received help from his defense throughout, with catcher Robinson Chirinos erasing baserunners at second base in the first inning (Elvis Andrus) and the sixth (Willie Calhoun) while also inducing an inning-ending double play off the bat of Rangers catcher Jose Trevino in the fifth.
Verlander ran into a spot of trouble in the fourth when he surrendered consecutive one-out singles to Calhoun and Nomar Mazara, but back-to-back strikeouts of Danny Santana and Nick Solak ended the threat. With his eight strikeouts, Verlander improved his season total to 283, seven shy of his single-season high set last year, while bumping his career mark to 2,989 strikeouts. He is close to becoming the 18th pitcher in history with 3,000.
Rangers right-hander Lance Lynn (14-11) was up to the task of matching Verlander early on, retiring 12 consecutive batters into the fifth before Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel socked the first of three solo homers off Lynn. Gurriel drilled a 95.5 mile-per-hour fastball the opposite way to right field with one out. His 29th home run of the season raised his season RBI total to 100.
Lynn retired the first two batters of the sixth before surrendering a solo shot to Bregman, whose 37th home run carried 387 feet to left field. While Bregman turned on an 0-1, 95.5 mile-per-hour fastball, Alvarez socked a 3-2 fastball a whopping 454 feet to straightaway center for his 26th homer. Lynn has allowed multiple homers in a start four times this season, thrice to the Astros.
The Astros (99-53) kept pace with the New York Yankees, who beat the Los Angeles Angels 8-0, for the best record in the American League and can clinch a third consecutive postseason bid with a win Wednesday against Texas (74-78), which fell to 0-8 at Minute Maid Park this season. Astros closer Roberto Osuna notched his 34th save with a perfect ninth.
--Field Level Media