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Justin Verlander is having a CY Young caliber season at 39 years old and in his 17th season in Major League Baseball.
And he is OK with being pulled from a no-hitter after just six innings.
Verlander earned his 16th win of the season Tuesday night against the Minnesota Twins, allowing just one baserunner and zero hits in a 4-2 Houston win.
“I like to go deep in games in the regular season, but I’d rather do it in the postseason or at least be fresh and strong for that,” Verlander said after the game.
Verlander was pulled by Astros manager Dusty Baker after six innings and 91 pitches after striking out 10 Minnesota batters.
“After six innings at … 91 pitches, you know it’s not going to be one of those nights,” Verlander said. “Maybe 15 years ago, 10 years ago when I loved throwing 130-something. But not now and specifically not after Tommy John in my first season back.”
It has been an amazing turnaround for Verlander, who missed most of the 2020 season and the entire 2021 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
His ERA of 1.87 leads all of Major League Baseball as the Astros continue to pull away in the American League West division, now 11.5 games up on the Seattle Mariners.
Baker told reporters after the game that Verlander was on a pitch count of 90 as Houston prepares to go from a six-man rotation down to a five-man.
“Tonight his pitch count was 90, and he had 91,” Baker said after the game.
“We asked him, and he thought that was enough. It’s tough to take a guy out with a no-hitter, but he’d have to go 130 pitches to get that. So, you got to weigh between a no-hitter and having him for the rest of the year. He felt that it was more important that we have a healthy Verlander for the rest of the year.”
Carlos Correa, who spent the first seven years of his career with the Astros, broke up the no-hit bid in the top of the seventh inning in his return to Houston.
“I didn’t want to get no-hit on the first game back, so I had to drop that one in there,” Correa said.
The Astros are three games up on the New York Yankees for the best record in the American League.
The Associated Press contributed to this report