Justin Verlander pitches 7 innings in Astros return, Houston loses 3-1 to Yankees

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Justin Verlander pitched seven strong innings but allowed a go-ahead home run to Jake Bauers in the fifth to begin his second stint for the Houston Astros with a 3-1 loss to the New York Yankees on Saturday.

Verlander allowed seven hits, his second most this season and lost a regular-season start to the Yankees for the first time since June 19, 2015 with the Detroit Tigers. He struck out four and walked two and fell to 10-8 lifetime against the Yankees in the regular season.

The Astros reacquired Verlander on Tuesday from the Mets for a pair of top prospects in outfielders Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford. The Mets also sent up to $52.5 million to the Astros to help pay off Verlander’s contract — the two-year deal worth a guaranteed $86.7 million with an additional $35 million vesting player option for 2025 that he signed in December, shortly after helping the Astros win the World Series for the second time since he arrived in Houston in 2017.

[Related: Ben Verlander reacts to brother Justin’s return to Astros in blockbuster trade with Mets]


Rookie Anthony Volpe lifted a sacrifice fly in the second against Verlander for the Yankees, which won for the third time in four games. Gleyber Torres added a homer to open the eighth off Kendall Graveman, who is also beginning his second stint with the Astros after being reacquired at the trade deadline. 

Giancarlo Stanton reached three times but was easily thrown out by center fielder Mauricio Dubón attempting to score from second on DJ LeMahieu’s base hit in the third inning. Dubon’s throw reached the plate well before the slugger got there after Stanton glanced at the toss halfway down the third baseline. 

Jose Altuve hit his 200th career homer off Nestor Cortes in the third, but that was Houston’s only hit off the Yankees left-hander.

Cortes returned from a rotator cuff strain and went the first four innings since he was on a pitch count following two rehab starts. In his first start since May 30 in Seattle, the left-hander allowed only Altuve’s homer with two outs in the third.

Cortes had a season-high eight strikeouts, walked one and threw 64 pitches while showing a slight uptick in fastball velocity.

Ian Hamilton pitched two innings to earn the win, Tommy Kahnle pitched the seventh and Michael King struck out Altuve looking at a full count changeup to end the eighth with a runner on. Clay Holmes earned his 16th save.

[Related: Justin Verlander ‘fighting for a championship’ with Astros again after ‘whirlwind’ with Mets]

Verlander began his 103rd regular-season start as an Astro by getting a called third strike on Bauers. He called out a trainer to deal with a bloody knuckle and struck out LeMahieu with two on to end the first.

After allowing consecutive hits to open the second, Verlander allowed Volpe’s fly ball to put the Yankees ahead.

Altuve’s milestone blast to left tied the game in the third, but Bauers gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the fifth.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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