HOUSTON (AP) — Justin Verlander struck out a season-high 12 in seven sparkling innings, Yordan Alvarez hit a two-run homer and the Houston Astros beat the Seattle Mariners 4-1 on Tuesday night.
There was no trouble between the teams one night after beanballs led to a bench-clearing scuffle. Houston bench coach Joe Espada filled in for manager Dusty Baker, who served a one-game suspension after he and reliever Héctor Neris were ejected from Monday’s game.
Baker was also fined an undisclosed amount.
Verlander (7-2) yielded one run on six hits and improved to 3-1 with a 2.93 ERA in four starts against the Mariners this season.
“Obviously, every strikeout is one less ball in play, so chances are better to have success,” Verlander said. “I don’t go out hunting for strikeouts really ever. They just kind of happen. It was nice to see some of the adjustments I made I think carried over into my start, and I was able to have a little more swing-and-miss stuff.”
Verlander was tagged for six runs and four homers in his last outing against the Mariners on May 27.
“I think it was more execution than anything,” Verlander said. “I’ve been a bit off recently executing quite a few pitches. Particularly last time I played these guys they took advantage of some of those mistakes. Today, I was able to locate all my stuff better and made some adjustments between starts mechanics-wise to hopefully be a bit more consistent, and I felt like I was able to do that.”
The right-hander now has 3,086 career strikeouts, moving past Max Scherzer (3,079) and John Smoltz (3,084) for 17th place. The win was the 233rd of Verlander’s career, tying Charlie Buffinton for 62nd all-time.
“He’s just got this extra gear that not a lot of pitchers have,” Espada said. “He gets in trouble, and he knows how to use…