Vintage Verlander dominates as Astros stymie Mariners 4-0

SEATTLE (AP) — Justin Verlander pitched three-hit ball over eight innings for his first win since July 2020 and the Houston Astros beat the Seattle Mariners 4-0 on Saturday night.

Martín Maldonado provided the offense with a two-run homer for his first hit of the season.

A day after watching Seattle roll up 11 runs against Houston pitching, Verlander (1-1) looked to be back in the form that earned him the 2019 AL Cy Young award. Verlander earned his first victory since beating Seattle on July 24, 2020 on the opening day of the shortened 2020 season, before undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Leaning mostly on his fastball and slider, Verlander finished eight innings for the first time since Sept. 1, 2019, when he no-hit the Toronto Blue Jays. The only hits he allowed to Seattle were a leadoff single by Adam Frazier to begin the first and Ty France’s singles in the fourth and sixth innings.

Verlander struck out eight with no walks on 87 pitches. The only other batter to reach base was J.P. Crawford, who was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning. Verlander pitched five strong innings in his season debut last week against the Angels, only to be outdueled by fellow Tommy John recoveree Noah Syndergaard.

Maldonado was hitless in his first 15 at-bats this season before driving an 0-1 pitch from Chris Flexen out to deep left field for a 3-0 lead in the fifth inning. Jeremy Peña started the inning with a sharp single to cap an eight-pitch at-bat, and Maldonado didn’t miss on a poorly located fastball from Flexen.

Peña tripled in the seventh and scored on Jose Altuve’s RBI single off reliever Matt Festa.

Flexen (0-2) nearly matched zeros with Verlander until giving up the long ball. Flexen scattered five hits and struck out three. The Mariners have yet to score this season while Flexen was on the mound.


Astros: All-Star closer Ryan Pressly was placed on the 10-day injured list due to right knee inflammation. Pressly returned to Houston for additional examination. LHP Parker Mushinski was selected from Triple-A Sugar Land to take Pressly’s roster spot. ... DH Yordan Alvarez was back at the ballpark after being sick for several days with a non-COVID-19 illness. Alvarez took part in pregame work but a decision on returning to the roster won’t be made until Sunday.

Mariners: RF Mitch Haniger was placed on the COVID-19 IL before Saturday’s game. Haniger reported symptoms and tested positive at the ballpark, manager Scott Servais said. Seattle recalled IF Donovan Walton from Triple-A Tacoma to take Haniger’s roster spot.


Astros: RHP José Urquidy (1-0, 1.80) allowed four hits and one run over five innings in his first start against the Angels.

Mariners: RHP Matt Brash (0-1, 3.38) makes his second big league start. Brash threw 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs in his debut earlier this week against the White Sox.