Desperate to avoid a winner-take-all Game 5 in this American League Division Series, the Houston Astros asked ace Justin Verlander to do something Monday that he hadn’t done as a professional or in college.
It didn’t work out well.
With the Astros leading by one run and trying to close out the Boston Red Sox in the best-of-five series, Verlander warmed up in the bullpen and made the first relief appearance of his career with one out and a runner on first base in the fifth inning. The first batter he faced, Red Sox rookie Andrew Benintendi, belted a two-run homer to right field to swing the score in Boston’s favor and prompt taunts of “Jus-tin! Jus-tin!” from the crowd at Fenway Park.
The exhibition victory over the Nuggets marked the first time that Hammon coached the regular Spurs team in the preseason. Hammon served the past two seasons as head coach of San Antonio’s summer league team, which in 2015 captured the NBA Las Vegas Summer league title with the six-time WNBA All-Star at the helm.
He just turned 20 years old last month and he has the upside to make a big leap from Year 1 to Year 2. I’m also a big believer in Lakers coach Luke Walton in the way he works with young players like Ingram and uses them in a way where they can excel.
So Roark will get the ball. While Strasburg-Gio Gonzalez would be a stronger pairing than Roark-Strasburg, you were going to have to win the non-Strasburg game anyway, and you can argue matching him up against Kyle Hendricks in a potential Game 5 gives the Nationals a better chance of winning that game than Gonzalez. You just have to get there. For that, Washington has to get the bats going. The Nationals have hit just .121/.200/.231 in the first three games.