Mandatory Credit: Photo by Kevin M Cox/UPI/Shutterstock (13438918l) Houston Astros’ Kyle Tucker, right, is congratulated by Alex Bregman after hitting a three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas on Tuesday, October 4, 2022. MLB Phillies Astros, Houston, Texas, United States – 04 Oct 2022
With just two games left in the regular season, the Astros continued to use the opportunity to get final tune-ups for their players, including Justin Verlander’s last start.
Verlander looked in peak form, dominating the Phillies to wrap up his Cy Young case with a bow, while Houston’s offense used early homers to cruise to a 10-0 win.
Houston tees off on Suarez
After being held scoreless in Monday’s opener, the Astros wasted no time getting on the board in Tuesday’s game against the Phillies. After a 1-2-3 top of the first by Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve jump-started Houston’s offense with a leadoff double, setting up Jeremy Peña for a two-run homer, giving Houston a quick 2-0 lead.
The home run was his 22nd of the season, matching Carlos Correa’s 2015 rookie total as second all-time by a rookie in franchise history. Houston continued to punish Ranger Suarez, getting two more on base before Kyle Tucker would also go deep, a three-run blast to make it 5-0, his 30th of the season. Martin Maldonado joined the fun in the bottom of the second, blasting a solo shot to start the inning, pushing the lead to 6-0.
While the Astros were batting around, the Phillies looked lost at the plate against Justin Verlander. Houston’s ace started the night with a strikeout, then induced a groundout for the second out of the top of the first. Then, he proceeded to strike out eight batters in a row, tying a franchise record with Don Wilson and Jim Deshaies.
Verlander did not allow a baserunner until the top of the fifth, where he issued a leadoff walk, but retired the next three batters. Verlander’s night would end there, finishing an incredible regular season, especially for a pitcher returning from Tommy John surgery. His final line: 5.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 77 P.
Houston evens up the series
The runs kept coming for the Astros in the bottom of the fifth, getting RBI singles by Christian Vázquez and Mauricio Dubón to make it an eight-run lead. Hunter Brown kept the no-hitter intact in the top of the sixth, issuing a walk but working around it.
Brown followed that with a 1-2-3 seventh inning, then faced one more batter, getting a strikeout to start the eighth before Dusty Baker would bring in Hector Neris, who would carry the no-hitter to the ninth. Will Smith had the ninth, and the Phillies would break up the no-hitter against him before he could finish off the lopsided win.
News and notes
Game 162: The final game of the 2022 regular season and finale of this three-game series with the Phillies will start at 3:10 PM on Wednesday, as will most games around the league. Framber Valdez (16-6, 2.89 ERA) will get the final start for the Astros.
Judge breaks the record: Against the Rangers on Tuesday night, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge recorded his 62nd home run of 2022, setting a new American League record, surpassing Roger Maris.
Tucker putting up Bagwell-like numbers: With his 30th home run in Tuesday’s game, Kyle Tucker reached the 100 RBI, 30 home runs, and 30 stolen base mark, which has only been done twice before in franchise history, both by Jeff Bagwell in 1997 and 1999.