SEATTLE — After striking out 20 and allowing just one earned run in the 15 innings he threw last week, Astros ace Justin Verlander collected his seventh career American League Player of the Week honor on Monday.
Verlander had not won the award since 2012. He twirled a seven scoreless innings against the Twins in 35 degree temperatures last Monday — a 2-0 win that was the second-coldest game in Astros franchise history — before dueling fellow Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon on Sunday.
“For me, it was a goal of mine to start the season strong, that was something I put a lot of emphasis on,” Verlander said. “It’s been kind of a weakness of mine, my whole career really. It’s nice to get off to a good start, it doesn’t mean it’s going to stay good. I think for me the goal is to try to be consistent as long as I can. To get off to a good start is always nice.”
Verlander gave up 11 earned runs in his first three starts last season and 13 in his first three starts of 2016.
Entering Monday’s games, Verlander trails only teammate Gerrit Cole for the American League lead in strikeouts. He ranks second in the AL with 26.2 innings pitched and his 1.35 ERA is fifth in the league.
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Verlander got a no decision against the Rangers despite eight innings of one-hit, one-run baseball. Teams hit just .100 against him in the two starts.
“I think I tried to take the next step this year and really focus on the smaller things that I found success in last year,” Verlander said, “that transitioned me from early in the season struggles to being where I was late in the season.”
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