HOUSTON — Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander left his start Sunday after going three innings and 60 pitches, and the team later announced that he has soreness in his right calf.
Verlander struck out six, including all three in the first inning, and allowed three hits and a walk to the Baltimore Orioles before leaving in his shortest outing of the season. The game was goalless at the time.
“He’s going to take some pictures [Monday],” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “He felt that, when he was covering first base, that it was his calf. And that’s the best of bad news. We were very happy that he didn’t have anything to do with his arm or elbow or anything like that.”
Astros reliever Seth Martinez began warming up in the bullpen while Verlander was still on the mound, entering the game to start the fourth inning after throwing 16 pitches on Saturday.
Martinez, who pitched one inning, was one of five relievers who carried the Astros the rest of the way. Ryne Stanek (2-1) also pitched an inning for the win in Houston’s 3-1 win. The Astros’ bullpen picked up where Verlander left off, striking out seven Orioles in six innings.
Verlander has had a breakout season, as Houston has sat comfortably in first place in the AL West for most of it. The 39-year-old veteran entered Sunday’s opener 16-3 with a 1.87 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 148 strikeouts.
“These things happen,” Baker said. “They can happen to anyone on the field. I’m glad it wasn’t his arm.”
Verlander led off the third by allowing an infield single to Robinson Chirinos and a walk to Cedric Mullins. He got away with a strikeout from Adleyrutschman before inducing a double play with Anthony Santander’s bat.
“When he came off the field after throwing the last pitch, he just went into the tunnel and said he felt something,” Baker said.
Alex Bregman homered for Houston and Yuli Gurriel had a two-run single in the win. The Astros are 82-47 and 12 games ahead of the Seattle Mariners in the division.
Associated Press contributed to this report.