Justin Verlander threw a five-hit shutout Wednesday night, leading the Houston Astros to a 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif.
It was Verlander’s first shutout since August 2015, when he was with the Detroit Tigers and he blanked the Angels. He notched his first complete game since 2016.
Verlander struck out seven and walked one while making 118 pitches as the Astros took two of three in the series.
The 35-year-old right-hander earned the victory after going winless in his previous three starts, including losses in his past two. However, it wasn’t as if he had been struggling — in those three starts, he allowed a total of two earned runs in 20 innings but was victimized by a lack of run support.
Verlander didn’t get much support on Wednesday, but what he got was enough the way he was pitching. Evan Gattis’ two-run homer off Angels starter Garrett Richards in the second inning was all the Astros could muster, but it was all they would need.
The Angels threatened in the eighth inning after a single by Ian Kinsler and double by Kole Calhoun with one out. With the potential tying runs on second and third, Verlander threw a called third strike past pinch hitter Luis Valbuena, then got Mike Trout to hit a comebacker on a check swing to end the inning.
The Angels had to know they could be in for a long night considering only two players in their starting lineup — Zack Cozart (.333) and Albert Pujols (.276) — went into the game with a lifetime average of at least .200 against Verlander.
In fact, Trout (2-for-23), Justin Upton (1-for-12) and Calhoun (2-for-25) were under .100 against him, and things didn’t change much Wednesday.
The Angels’ 1-2-3 hitters in the lineup — Trout, Shohei Ohtani and Upton — were a combined 0-for-12 in the game.
Richards (4-2) retired the first two Astros hitters in the second inning before an error by the third baseman Cozart allowed Josh Reddick to reach base. Gattis followed and connected on a 95 mph fastball on an 0-1 count, hitting his fourth homer of the season.
Richards was sharp for the rest of his outing, but he got the loss despite allowing two unearned runs on four hits and one walk in seven innings. He struck out four and made 91 pitches.
—Field Level Media