Verlander now 5-0 with Astros
(c) Associated Press
The Astros finished a 3-game sweep of the Rangers in grand fashion Wednesday afternoon with a 12-2 trouncing of their neighbors to the north. George Springer's grand slam was the icing on the cake in the Astros' third consecutive blowout victory in Arlington.
Justin Verlander struck out eleven in his fifth straight win since becoming an Astro. Verlander went six innings, allowing two runs on six hits.
Jose Altuve's first inning single was his 200th hit of the season and put runners at the corners with only one out. Carlos Correa and Marwin Gonzalez followed with RBI singles to give Verlander a 2-run lead when he took the mound in the bottom of the first.
Willie Calhoun got one of those runs back for the Rangers in the second. The rookie crushed a line drive homer to right-center, his first since being called up to the big leagues two short weeks ago.
Tony Kemp singled in a run for the Astros in the fourth and Carlos Correa cranked a home run down the leftfield line in the fifth to make it 4-1 Astros.
Drew Robinson turned on a Verlander fastball leading off the bottom of the fifth, homering to cut the lead to 4-2.
Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran swatted back-to-back singles to start the sixth, chasing Arlington starter Nick Martinez from the contest. Tony Barnette came out of the Rangers' bullpen and committed the ultimate reliever sin by walking the first man he faced, Yuli Gurriel, to load the bases.
Kemp came through with another clutch hit, a liner to center scoring McCann to make it 5-2. Springer then broke the game wide open with a towering 411-foot blast to plate four big runs. Carlos Correa would add a 2-run dinger later in the inning to make it 11-2 and send Barnette to the showers.
The Rangers would be unable to mount a comeback against the Astros bullpen. Francisco Liriano, Luke Gregerson, and Tony Sipp would deliver one scoreless inning apiece to complete the series sweep.
Correa would finish the day 4-for-5 with two home runs, a double, and four RBIs. Kemp was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two runs batted in. The Astros totalled 16 hits in their 98th win of the season.
The Astros finish the regular season with a 4-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston. The most likely opponent in the first round of the playoffs, the Eastern division-leading Red Sox will send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound Thursday night. The Astros counter with 12-game winner Brad Peacock in a 6:10 CDT tilt.
- Greg Thurston