Houston Astros’ ace Justin Verlander may have been the runner-up to Blake Snell in the Cy Young voting last season, but he certainly got the upper hand today.
Maybe Verlander felt like he had something to prove, a little chip on his shoulder. The Astros‘ hurler started out a little shaky but then settled in nicely, shutting down 15 batters in a row at one point when discounting the runner that reached on an Aledmys Diaz error in the sixth. Diaz was in for Carlos Correa who sat out with stiffness in his neck.
In his 11th opening day start, Verlander completed seven innings allowing only one run on a solo home run by Austin Meadows in the 1st inning. Tommy Pham followed that up with a single but was then caught off the bag by Robinson Chirinos and was tagged out in the rundown. Verlander then started the second inning putting on the first two batters with a walk and a hit batsman.
From then on it was lights out for the Rays, he didn’t allow another batter to reach base until a lead-off double in the seventh. After hitting another batter, Verlander retired the side ending his afternoon. He struck out nine batters while walking just one and gave up three hits in a dominating performance to start off the 2019 season.
Snell‘s day in front of his home crowd didn’t quite turn out as well. The Astros took Snell deep three times in his six innings of work. He only gave up sixteen home runs in the entire 2018 season for a 0.8 HR/9IP rate.
For the third straight season opener, George Springer sparked the Astros scoring with a home run. No, it wasn’t a lead-off home run as in 2017 and 2018, but a three-run shot all the same. Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve added to Snell’s woes with solo shots of their own, both going 2 for 4 on the day.
Ryan Pressly pitched the eighth allowing just one hit and Roberto Osuna came in and finished it out with a 1-2-3 ninth for the 5-1 victory. It was a beautiful day in Tampa Bay and it had a beautiful ending as well. They’ll do it all over again tomorrow with another great match-up between Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton.