Verlander strikes out 10, Astros beat Orioles 4-3 in Game 1
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE (AP) In his final regular-season performance, Justin Verlander definitively showed he's ready for the playoffs.
Whether the right-hander receives his second AL Cy Young Award, well, that's not nearly so clear.
Verlander struck out 10 in six sharp innings, Carlos Correa homered and hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the ninth, and the Houston Astros beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 Saturday in the opener of a doubleheader.
In his 14th big league season, Verlander went 16-9 with an AL-leading, career-high 290 strikeouts and only 37 walks in 214 innings - most in the AL through Saturday afternoon. His ERA of 2.52 also stands among the leaders.
"I think he's the Cy Young," manager A.J. Hinch said. "I believe in the innings, that they matter, and where he ranks in all the categories. It's a tough call. I'm going to be biased toward my guy."
Asked to assess his chances, Verlander said: "I feel like the body of work speaks for itself. It's going to be an interesting case. In my opinion, innings matter."
Verlander launched the dominant outing with seven strikeouts over three perfect innings. He allowed three hits, walked one and left with a 3-0 lead.
"He's 35 years old. It's remarkable to watch him pitch, even though he's beating you," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He would have kept pitching I'm sure five or six days from now."
Verlander's next outing will come in the postseason, which begins for Houston on Friday against Cleveland.
Orioles starter Dylan Bundy matched zeroes with Verlander until the sixth. Tony Kemp drew a leadoff walk, George Springer hit his 22nd home run on a 3-2 pitch and Correa sent Bundy's next offering over the right-field wall.
DJ Stewart tied it with a three-run homer off Joe Smith in the seventh.
In the ninth, Springer drew a two-out walk from Sean Gilmartin (1-1) and Correa doubled into the gap in right-center.
It has been a strange September for Astros right-hander Charlie Morton, who has worked only 12 innings and celebrated the birth of his fourth child.
Morton left with shoulder discomfort after pitching only one inning against the Angels last Sunday. Then, on Thursday, his wife gave birth to a girl.
Morton will start on Sunday in the season finale. How far he goes is up in the air.
"I could see it going anywhere from one inning, two innings, maybe even three innings," Hinch said. "I need to be convinced that he feels like he's clear from the soreness to where we're not risking a ton."
Orioles outfielder Adam Jones is receiving an unofficial, tentative farewell from the fans at Camden Yards this weekend.
His contract expires after the season, and he is 33 years old on a team rebuilding with youth. Even if the Orioles ask him back, would he say yes?
"I'm not the one making business decisions on their regard," he said before the game. "All I can do is make a business decision on my behalf."
Astros: Dallas Keuchel (12-11, 3.75 ERA) was slated to start the second game. Hinch said the lefty would only go three innings, to keep him sharp and get the bullpen some work before the playoffs.
Orioles: Rookie Yefry Ramirez (1-7, 6.07 ERA) makes his 12th start and 17th appearance in Game 2, looking for his first victory since July 24.
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Updated September 29, 2018