Astros shut out at home by White Sox
With 36,747 in the home of Minute Maid Park, the Houston Astros got mask by the Chicago White Sox, 7-0.
Since I started writing here at Crawfish Boxes, I’ve been tasked with the Saturday recaps. Despite winning about sixty percent of the time, it appears the Astros are unable to win home gold during games in which I’m assigned to the game capsule. In preparation for this article, I noticed that resident ace Justin Verlander (8-2, 1.94) should have given me a better than average chance to finally write about a Saturday win. Houston’s no-punch Saturdays aren’t just limited to my tenure here, either… They’re 3-8 after today’s debacle (and 37-17 otherwise).
Verlander’s nemesis Johnny Cueto (0-3, 3.53) has been there almost as long as he has been, but hasn’t had much success against Houston. He was 3-6 in 13 starts throughout his career, with a decent 3.64 ERA and a slightly less decent 1.409 WHIP. He gave up a first single to Jose Altuve late in the first, then walked two batters over the next six innings without giving up another hit.
Verlander struggled in the first half of the third. After loading the bases with just one out, Luis Robert hit a two-run single into right field for a 2-0 Chicago lead. The ball was 107 MPH initially, but with a 7° launch angle. Jose Abreu followed immediately with a two-point brace to make it 4-0, knocking out Verlander’s shot on his 10th Quality Start this season.
Despite Verlander’s troubles, he passed CC Sabathia for 16th on the all-time fourth-inning strikeout list, with his 3,094th. Later in the same inning, Josh Harrison crossed home for a run on an error by Altuve. On closer inspection, the error occurred on a ball that had a .570 xBA, suggesting that Altuve, whose view was also obstructed by the umpire, may have had a bad deal.
Also in the fourth, Robert collected his third and fourth RBI of the game on a two-run double and two outs for a 7-0 lead. The blow also marked the end of Verlander’s day. He allowed a season-high seven runs (four earned) on nine hits, without walking and striking out three for 3 2⁄3 sleeves. He had 59 of 81 shots over the plate but saw his ball ERA at 2.30.
After Phil Maton won the innings final, the Astros then had a 2.7% chance of victory. In the fourth round.
Houston wouldn’t have had another runner on base until Alex Bregman led off the seventh with a single. Bregman was immediately obliterated two pitches later on a Yordan Álvarez double play pitch, 1-6-3. It turned out that Bregman was the last Houston player to be on base until he was retired at ninth. Cueto went seven shutout innings, allowing two hits and two walks, striking out five and throwing 58 of 93 in the zone.
Reynaldo López had the last six out, allowing only a ninth-inning single to Altuve.
- In seven starts since arriving in Chicago, Cueto had his fifth quality start and first win.
- Going 3 for 28 from the plate, the Astros’ in-game xBA was a pretty well-deserved .137.
- Chicago, meanwhile, went 12 for 30 with just a .219 xBA — perhaps indicating a less than stellar defense.
AJ Pollock was 0 for 5 for Chicago, and the rest of the Sox hit .480.
Brandon Bielak, Maton and Hector Neris went seven innings in 5 1/3 shutouts.
Thanks for reading. Tomorrow at 6:08 p.m. CT, the Astros will host the White Sox in the ESPN Featured Game. Cristian Javier (3-3, 3.20) will face Michael Kopech (2-2, 1.92).