"I've got to do a better job of keeping the ball in the yard," Houston Astro ace pitcher Justin Verlander said after last night's 5 to 4 loss to the Angels that abruptly ended a five game winning streak. "It's been a common theme here all year really, but really the last four or five starts. I've got to figure out a way to combat this thing."
Verlander has surrendered 26 homers this season, four shy of his career high of 30 set in 2016 and the fourth-most for any season of his stellar career. Over his past five starts, Verlander has allowed 12 home runs, five last night.
Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani showed that he knows how to celebrate a birthday. Now he will now look to keep the party going on the road this evening against the Houston Astros.
Left-hander Andrew Heaney, who missed 51 games with left elbow inflammation, will make his eighth start of the season for the Angels tonight. He was saddled with the loss against the Oakland Athletics on Sunday after allowing five runs on six hits and one walk with eight strikeouts over six innings. Heaney has recorded at least eight strikeouts in four of his seven starts this year. In seven career starts against the Astros, he is 3-2 with a 3.15 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 40 innings. He is 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA over two starts at Minute Maid Park.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole, the American League pitcher of the month for June, will start the middle game of the series for Houston. Cole finished 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA over six starts last month, recording 49 strikeouts over 38 innings. He is 3-1 with a 3.58 ERA over six career starts against the Angels, with four of those starts coming in 2018 in his first season with Houston. Cole went 2-1 with a 3.65 ERA against the Angels with 36 strikeouts over 24 innings.
The first 15,000 fans tonight will get a Gerrit "Cole Train" pitching bobble-head.