Justin Verlander was on and that's never good for opposing batters. The Astros' ace outdueled Rangers' left-hander Cole Hamels to lead Houston to a 4-1 Opening Day win over Texas Thursday afternoon at Globe Life Park.
Verlander held the Rangers to four singles and two walks over six innings to earn the win. Hamels was pegged with the loss after allowing three runs on fives hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings.
Hamels twice worked out of messes to prevent a bigger hole for the Rangers. He struck out seven, including two in the first with Alex Bregman at second base.
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Verlander had most of the Rangers' lineup baffled, except for Adrian Beltre, who had two of the six hits in the game (and two of the four against Verlander).
"It’s not a secret what he can do. He was tough today. He was elevating his fastball," Beltre said.
Failing to strike early, Elvis Andrus said, allowed Verlander to settle in with a lead. The Rangers had the first two batters on in the second but Shin-Soo Choo hit into a 4-6-3 double play and Verlander struck out Robinson Chirinos to strand Beltre at third.
Rougned Odor led off the third inning with single but Verlander picked him off at first for the second out.
"When you face any top pitcher in this league and you let him feel comfortable through the first few innings, it’s always going to be tough to get back and try to put something together," Andrus said.
The Rangers were left to respectfully tipping their caps to Verlander after the game.
"He’s one of the best pitchers in the game, if not the best, so you know that coming into it," Joey Gallo said. "You know it’s going to be a grind up there."