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Justin Verlander is in postseason form.
The Houston Astros ace pitched five no-hit innings against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday before manager Dusty Baker ended his night. The Astros bullpen failed to bring the no-hitter home as Will Smith allowed three hits in the ninth. But the Astros ran away with a 10-0 win and a stellar effort from their Cy Young favorite with their postseason slated to start on Oct. 11.
Verlander had his best stuff in his brief stint while recording 10 strikeouts and a single walk as his only baserunner allowed. But with the postseason looming and the AL’s No. 1 seed secure, Baker declined to tax his ace’s arm. He pulled Verlander after 77 pitches, 51 of which went for strikes.
Hunter Brown and Hector Neris took over on the mound and kept the Phillies off the hit column through eight innings. But Phillies catcher Garrett Stubbs broke up the bid with a leadoff single off Smith in the ninth.
The effort puts an exclamation point on another stellar season for Verlander that ends with an 18-4 record, 1.75 ERA and 185 strikeouts in 175 innings pitched. If he does win the Cy Young at 39 years old, it will be the third of his career. And he’s probably not too upset about losing out on the combined no-hitter. He has three of his own already.