*The Astros are 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Angels broke a seven-game losing streak to Houston dating back to August 31, 2018.
*Justin Verlander stays giving up bombs. Verlander threw 7IP, 7H/4ER, 6K:1BB, 3HR allowed. That's 26 home runs allowed by Verlander in 2019. He has walked 27 batters. It's the 4th time he has allowed 3HR in a start - two have come against Anaheim, three have been since June 12. Angels manager Brad Ausmus, on Verlander:
I've seen Verlander firsthand, saw him for years. Great competitor, great pitcher and you know you're in for a battle. With that being said, I haven't come across any pitcher who's pitched in the big leagues for any length of time who's unbeatable. You will find most of them have losses. Really, the frame of mind is, yeah, it's going to be tough but nobody is unbeatable.
FACT CHECK: Brad Ausmus is correct. Most of the pitchers in MLB history do, in fact, have losses.
Verlander's current 18.7% HR/FB rate is insane, obliterating his previous career high of 11.5% in 2017. Only eight pitchers in MLB have a higher HR/FB (rate at which fly balls end up leaving the yard) rate. Gerrit Cole is 8th, at 19.1%. Verlander and Cole have a combined 5.3 fWAR. The other seven pitchers have a combined 4.8 fWAR.
I've got to do a better job of keeping the ball in the yard. It's been a common theme here all year really, but really the last four or five starts. I've got to figure out a way to combat this thing.
He's a fly-ball pitcher, and he lives at the top of the zone. They did a good job of beating him to the spot a couple of times above the zone. There's no secret where he's going to pitch. They did a good job of having a game plan against him and executed against the high fastball...JV was all over the strike zone. He commanded the ball pretty well. You look up and you don't understand how with that stuff and that command, how the night turned for him.
McTaggart notes that Verlander's 2.98 ERA is the lowest first-half ERA of his career.
.168/.221/.386 with 26 Home Runs would be a very strange season statline for a hitter.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 6, 2019
That's what MLB has done against Justin Verlander this season.
*Hector Rondon allowed an 8th Inning homer to Mike Trout to put the Angels up 5-2.
*Michael Brantley went 4x4 with two doubles and a home run. He had four of the Astros' six hits. It's the 13th 4-hit game of Brantley's career and the first since May 3, 2018. It's just the 14th time this season that any MLB player has had three extra-base hits and only one RBI. Jack Mayfield and Yuli Gurriel have also done it this year. That has happened 35 times in franchise history, the last being Martin Maldonado (who doubled, tripled, and homered in the same game on August 19, 2018).
And the reason he only had one RBI is because the top three of Springer-Altuve-Bregman were a combined 0x11 with 2BB.
*Yuli Gurriel hit his 12th home run, going 1x4 with 3RBI. In his last 15 games Gurriel is hitting .361/.400/.787 with more home runs (7) than strikeouts (5).
*Hinch is looking at putting Wade Miley in between Verlander and Cole in the rotation. Hinch:
What order that is is going to be determined. It's going to be different. It's not going to be full forward as we expected. There's a couple of decisions that we have to make. I have the order in pencil.
I'm penciling in Max Scherzer in between Verlander and Cole, so let's see how that pans out.
Jake Kaplan says that's all well and good but the biggest question coming out of the All-Star Break: Who is SP5?
*Rough news as Corbin Martin had Tommy John Surgery on Wednesday. He'll obviously miss the rest of 2019 and most of 2020, as well. Hinch:
I care about the player. We can talk all you want about the depth and how important he is to the organization, and what it does to our pitching. But the reality is, we need to focus on him. This is a tough injury and one we know all too well with [Lance McCullers Jr.], watching him go through rehab every day.
Luhnow: Martin's injury could make acquiring a pitcher with an extra year of control "more appealing."
Related: Jon Heyman reports that Detroit's asking price for Matt Boyd is "over the top." The Astros have been "scouting Boyd hard."
Related: Marcus Stroman will not pitch this weekend, giving him extra time to recover from a left pectoral cramp.
*Here's a fantastic story from Chandler Rome about how Yordan Alvarez became an Astro, and how Alvarez was the only one in Cuba who knew the Gurriels were defecting.
*Last summer, the Astros almost traded Derek Fisher for Detroit's Nick Castellanos. So between those talks and the Verlander trade, Houston and Detroit know each other's systems pretty well.
*Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco has been diagnosed with leukemia.
*Phillies OF Odubel Herrera was suspended for the remainder of the 2019 season as a result of violating the league's domestic violence policy. MLB specifically said that Herrera was ineligible for the postseason, which was not the case for Roberto Osuna in 2018.
*Leeds United has managed to piss off perhaps their best/most important player: Pontus Jansson.
*Deadspin: The Man Who Walked His Life Away.
*The rise and fall of Takeru Kobayashi.
*A Musical Selection: