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Is The Return Of This Three-Time Cy Young Winner The Spark That Houston Needs?

The Houston Astros’ start to the 2024 season was anything but ideal. With a 7-14 record, the team is in desperate need for a new spark. The good news is that pitcher Justin Verlander made his 2024 season debut on Friday night. The return of the three-time Cy Young award and two-time World Series Champion was welcomed by teammates and fans.

After a delayed start to spring training due to shoulder inflammation, Verlander made his season debut on a cloudy day at Nationals Park. The 41-year-old’s presence on the mound was a relief for an Astros team that had been plagued by injuries to its pitching staff.

Verlander’s performance showed he is still pitching at an elite level despite his age . Over six innings, he allowed just two runs and four hits, striking out four without issuing a single walk. His pitch count was a modest 78, with 50 strikes, showcasing his efficiency and control.

The game against the Washington Nationals marked Verlander’s 510th career start, a testament to his longevity and resilience. The highlight of Verlander’s outing was undoubtedly the 11-pitch first inning, which he capped off with a 94.5 mph fastball, striking out Jesse Winker. It was a moment that reminded everyone of Verlander’s ability to dominate hitters with his powerful arm.

Verlander's biggest challenge came in the third inning. Riley Adams doubled off the right-center-field wall, and Ildemaro Vargas followed with a single, driving in the Nationals’ first run. Yet, Verlander showed his veteran experience, picking off Vargas at second and then inducing a pop out to end the inning.

The Astros’ offense provided support early on, staking Verlander to a 3-0 lead. Although Adams would later homer off Verlander, the Astros held on to win by a score of 5-3, with Verlander earning the victory in his 2024 debut.

Astros manager Joe Espada expressed relief before the game stating that having Verlander back was “huge just for the morale of the club.” His leadership and competitive nature are invaluable assets, and his successful return is a beacon of hope for the Astros as they look to turn their season around.

Verlander’s debut was more than just a quality start; it was a statement that even at 41, he remains a force to be reckoned with on the baseball diamond. For the Astros, it was a much-needed win, and for Verlander, it was a triumphant return to the game he loves. As he walked off the mound, glove in hand, it was clear that Justin Verlander was ready to compete once more, and the Astros were all the better for it.

Expect the Astros to get back to dominating the American Leage again. The team has won their division the past three seasons including reaching the World Series twice in that span with a title in 2022. The slow start this year is a surprise but it should turn around soon.


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