Justin Verlander worked seven strong innings and was backed by an offense that produced seven extra-base hits as the Houston Astros claimed the opener of their three-game series with the Texas Rangers 7-2 on Friday at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Verlander (3-0) allowed his first hit with two outs in the fourth inning, a single by Texas left fielder Joey Gallo, and carried a shutout into the sixth. He surrendered a leadoff home run to Rangers second baseman Danny Santana in that frame but recovered to complete his outing with flair, getting three successive called strikes against Texas center fielder Delino DeShields.
Verlander allowed three hits and three walks with eight strikeouts in seven innings while helping snap the Rangers' four-game winning streak. He threw 107 pitches, 71 for strikes, and relied on his four-seam fastball, tossing 64 with an average velocity of 93.8 miles per hour.
The Astros got off to a rousing start against Rangers left-hander Drew Smyly (0-2), with George Springer (double), Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman reaching in succession to open the game. Altuve and Bregman, who slugged their eighth and third home runs, respectively, went deep on successive fastballs and, combined with Springer, produced an average exit velocity of 108.7 miles per hour. When Altuve added an RBI single in the second, Houston led 4-0.
Houston chased Smyly with two outs in the fourth, tagging him for four runs on five hits and three walks. Smyly recorded eight strikeouts, becoming just the third starter in franchise history with at least eight strikeouts in fewer than four innings. Smyly threw 102 pitches, making him the seventh Rangers pitcher since 1989 with 100-plus pitches while posting fewer than 12 outs.
The Astros, who have won 11 of 12, posted another three-run frame in the top of the fifth, with Michael Brantley, Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel opening that inning with successive doubles. Springer later doubled in Gurriel, doing so on the first pitch of his at-bat like Correa did earlier.
Springer, Altuve and Bregman produced two hits apiece atop the lineup, with Springer chipping in a pair of walks. Gurriel also walked twice while Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos finished 2-for-4.
Gallo added his seventh home run in the ninth inning.
--Field Level Media