Justin Verlander insisted he was ready to start Tuesday on three days rest. But the Tampa Bay Rays quickly proved him wrong.
The Houston Astros ace completed just 3 2/3 innings in Game 4 of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field. He exited with the Astros down, 4-0, and was lifted after 83 pitches, yielding four runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out five.
It was the first time Verlander started on three days rest in his 15-year career, which spans 479 regular-season and postseason starts. The 36-year-old Cy Young hopeful tossed seven scoreless innings and threw 100 pitches in the Astros’ 6-2 victory in Game 1 on Friday.
Justin Verlander in potential clinchers entering today: 25 2/3 IP, 3 runs
Justin Verlander in a potential clincher tonight: 3 2/3 IP, 4 runs
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 9, 2019
Tommy Pham and Willy Adames both homered for the Rays, who inflicted most of their damage against Verlander in the three-run opening frame. Pham struck first for Tampa Bay with a one-out solo shot to left-center in the first and Adames added a leadoff blast in the fourth. Verlander, who looked out of sorts from the get-go Tuesday, allowed 36 homers in the regular season, six of which came in the first inning of his starts.
Travis d’Arnaud added another score with an RBI single in the first and Joey Wendle capped the rally with a run-scoring double into the right-field corner. Verlander then stranded Rays in scoring position in both the second and third innings. The future Hall of Famer got a clutch strikeout of Avisail Garcia to strand a pair in the second and left Brandon Lowe on third after a leadoff double in the third.
Josh James recorded the final out of the fourth inning for Houston, stranding the inherited Ji-Man Choi, who drew all three walks against Verlander.
The Astros held a 2-1 series advantage going into the contest and had the chance to book a date with the New York Yankees in the ALCS with a win.
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