Justin Verlander’s worst start with the Houston Astros might have been OK if not for Wilson Ramos.
Ramos drove in four runs in the first two innings against Verlander and the Tampa Bay Rays went on to a 5-2 win over the Astros on Saturday.
”I wasn’t sharp [url=http://www.giantscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-saquon-barkley-jersey]Authentic Saquon Barkley Jersey[/url] , but also I didn’t have luck on my side,” Verlander said. ”I made an adjustment during the third inning that I thought was good, but it was too little too late.”
Verlander (9-4) gave up the most runs (5) and hits (9) of any of his 23 starts since his trade to Houston late last summer. He struck out eight in a season-low five innings after coming in with a major league-leading 1.82 ERA – though it was 4.34 in six June starts. The Astros have lost his last three starts.
Matt Duffy finished with three hits, including two in the first two innings, to help the Rays win for the seventh time in eight tames to move to .500 (41-41) for the first time since June 1.
”I gave up three hard-hit balls, all to the same guy. The rest of `em, nobody hit the ball hard,” Verlander said.
Ramos got the Rays on the scoreboard with a two-run double in the first, and made it 5-0 with a two-run single in the second. Those two at bats summarized Verlander’s day.
”The first at bat, I put him in a 3-1 situation where, bases loaded, he knows a heater’s coming, and he hit it off the wall. So that’s my fault,” Verlander said. ”His next bat I got a ground ball up the middle on a slider, which is kind of what you’re looking for. But it found a hole.”
Tampa Bay has held opponents to two runs or fewer in five straight games for only the second time in franchise history.
”The way these guys are throwing right now, we’re tough to beat,” said Kevin Kiermaier, who scored in each of the first two innings.
Alex Bregman got the Astros on the board with a two-run homer in the sixth off Vidal Nuno. It was Bregman’s 16th home run and his fifth in six games.
”They’ve been throwing the ball well over there [url=http://www.officialkings.com/authentic-adidas-jeff-carter-jersey]Jeff Carter Jersey[/url] , and we haven’t really been able to put anything together,” Bregman said. ”Verlander was a little unfortunate today with some of the weak contact that went for hits, but we’ve got to do a better job of putting up runs for him.
Nuno (2-0) got the win after pitching 4 2/3 innings of relief, giving up two runs and four hits while striking out four. Sergio Romo pitched ninth for his seventh save in 11 opportunities.
Ryne Stanek pitched the first inning for Tampa Bay, giving up a single to Jose Altuve, Houston’s only hit in the first four innings.
Adeiny Hechavarria made a fielding error on George Springer’s grounder in the top of the sixth just before Bregman’s homer. It ended a streak of 94 games and 319 chances in which the Rays’ shortstop had not committed a miscue. It was the longest errorless streak in franchise history for a shortstop. Hechavarria’s last error had come on July 30, 2017 at Yankee Stadium.
Astros: RHP Joe Smith (sore right elbow) will make what the Astros expect to be a final rehab appearance at Double-A Corpus Christi before being activated. … 1B Yuli Gurriel (paternity leave) is expected to be back in the lineup Sunday.
Rays: RHP Wilmer Font was placed on the 10-day disabled and RHP Hunter Wood was recalled from Triple-A Durham. Manager Kevin Cash said an optimistic timeframe has Font missing eight weeks. … Cash didn’t completely rule out RHP Chris Archer (left abdominal strain) from returning after his first rehab start Tuesday night锟?for Class A Charlotte.
The series finale will be a matchup of two of baseball’s hottest pitchers. Houston RHP Charlie Morton (10-1, 2.54) has won three straight starts and has not given up an earned run in his last two. LHP Blake Snell (10-4, 2.31) did not give up a hit until the seventh inning of the Rays’ 11-0 win against Washington on Monday night.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Boston Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals, two diametrically opposite clubs, meet in a three-game series beginning Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.
To say they are polar extremes would not be an exaggeration.
The Red Sox own the best record in the majors at 59-29. They have won eight of their past 10 and 10 of their past 13. They are 30 games over .500 for the first since they ended the 2013 season 32 games above.
Boston leads the American League with 463 runs and has outscored its opponents by 130 runs.
On the flip side, the Royals have lost six straight, 18 of 21 and 25 of 30. They are 25-61 and are 36 games below .500 for the first time since ending the 2006 season 62-100.
Kansas City ranks last in the American League with 297 runs and has been outscored by 167 runs.
“We didn’t have opportunities to manufacture runs,” manager Ned Yost told reporters after Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians. “We had opportunities with runners in scoring position that we couldn’t capitalize on. And that’s been a major problem for us all year long.”
The Red Sox are 31-17 on the road. The Royals have lost 12 of their last 13 games at Kauffman Stadium and their 11-32 home record is the worst in the majors.
The Royals have not scored more than four runs in 25 of their last 26 games. They have failed to collect double-figure hits in 25 of their last 26 games and are batting .191 with 55 runs in that stretch.
And who do the Royals face in the opener of this series?
None other than dominant left-hander Chris Sale, who leads the American League with 164 strikeouts and is averaging 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Opponents own a .179 batting average versus Sale (8-4, 2.41 ERA).
“He looks like the best pitcher in the big leagues right now,” Boston manager Alex Cora said.
Sale [url=http://www.officialkings.com/authentic-adidas-nate-thompson-jersey]Nate Thompson Jersey[/url] , who ranks among the league leaders in overall ERA, owns a 2.32 road ERA and a 2.45 night ERA. He enters the game having not allowed a run in his past 15 innings. Sale is 3-1 with a 1.03 ERA in his past five starts after striking out and allowing a first-inning single to Giancarlo Stanton in seven dominant innings in an 11-0 win at Yankee Stadium over the New York Yankees on Saturday.
“He was outstanding again,” Cora said. “Fastball command and off-speed pitches, it was a great performance.”
Sale is 10-10 with a 2.92 ERA in 33 career appearances, 22 starts, against Kansas City. He held the Royals to two runs and five hits while walking two and striking out six over seven innings in a no-decision on May 1 at Fenway Park. Sale is 2-0 with a 2.87 ERA in his last four starts in Kansas City, striking out 34 and walking five.
The Royals will counter with right-hander Jason Hammel, who is 2-10 with a 5.56 ERA. He is tied for the AL lead in losses and has yielded 15 runs in his last two starts. He is 0-5 with a 4.33 ERA in seven home starts this season.
Against the Red Sox, Hammel is 3-4 with a 5.13 ERA in 16 career appearances, nine of them starts. He dropped a 10-6 decision on April 30 to Boston, allowing eight runs on eight hits, including a pair of home runs, and three walks over 4 2/3 innings.
While Sale was the AL Pitcher of the Month for June, Hammel went 0-5 with a 6.43 ERA in six starts last month after ending May with back-to-back victories.
Hammel’s biggest challenge will be Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. They rank 1-2 in the majors in slugging percentage with Betts at .669 and Martinez .642.
Betts has 21 home runs and a .338 batting average. Martinez is hitting .327 with a major league-best 26 home runs, which is more than any Boston player hit in 2017.
Betts also hit three homers at Fenway Park on May 2 and went 4-for-4 in that game.