Saturday night’s game between the Los Angeles Angels and the Houston Astros was a duel between two pitchers who have barely taken the mound in the past few seasons due to injury, Justin Verlander and Noah Syndergaard. Both starters had Tommy John surgery in 2020 and the pair have combined to pitch eight innings since the beginning of the 2020 season entering Saturday. In a well-pitched game, Syndergaard and the Angels came out with the win over Verlander and the Astros. However, Verlander looked pretty sharp in this start, and that bodes well for the Astros and the future of their season.
Inside Verlander’s Outing
Verlander’s pitching line looked a lot like a typical Verlander start. In his return to Major League action, the veteran pitched five innings, giving up one run on a solo home run by Jared Walsh. The pitch to Walsh was basically the only big mistake Verlander made in the entire start. Overall, he gave up three hits and three walks. The three walks isn’t typical Verlander, but you can’t expect him to be perfect in his first start since 2020. He struck out seven Angels batters, including Shohei Ohtani three times. With the Astros being shut out, Verlander was handed the loss, but he pitched as well as Houston had hoped.
Beyond the pitching line, Verlander’s pitches looked really good as well, particularly his fastball. He threw the pitch just over 50% of the time. He averaged 94.7 mph with the pitch and touched 96 mph with it. In his 2019 Cy Young winning season, he averaged 94.8 mph with the pitch, so he is right in line with that. Overall, the 39 year old threw 80 pitches, 47 of them for strikes.
With Verlander barely pitching in the past couple years and having a shortened Spring Training, the Astros may be careful with the veteran. It may be a little while until he throws much more than 80 pitches. However, Verlander’s pitches showed that normal zip, so that’s a great sign for the Astros. If Verlander is even close to the guy he was before the surgery, the Astros will be much better off for it.
Angels Shut Out Astros
Saturday night’s game was a pitcher’s duel that the Astros came out on the losing end of. Houston managed just two hits against Syndergaard and three relievers, going without a hit over the final six innings of the game. The Angels’ first run of the game came off a solo homer by Walsh. Los Angeles could have blown the game open in the fifth inning, but Verlander held strong.
In the fifth inning, Angels’ catcher Max Stassi doubled to left center to lead it off. Brandon Marsh followed with a walk. After a Tyler Wade sacrifice bunt, Verlander had to face Ohtani and Mike Trout with runners on second and third with one out. After a long at-bat, the veteran pitcher got the reigning AL MVP to strike out looking for the second out. With two outs, Trout put a great swing on a low pitch from Verlander, but lined out to center to end the inning. This was the end of Verlander’s start, keeping the game at 1-0. Trout would later hit a solo homer to bring the game to 2-0, which would hold as the final score.
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