Justin Verlander got off to a good start in the Astros’ win over the Red Sox

HOUSTON – Even at 40, Justin Verlander is always looking for an edge. It can come in the form of information it extracts from TrackMan technology. It could come from something he discovered while throwing in the playing field. This can come by watching Instagram promotional videos.

“I’m a little nervous sometimes,” said Verlander.

Finding something he mechanically corrected since his last start, Verlander put in his best performance on Tuesday night since returning to the Astros earlier this month. Working at a good pace and with confidence galore, Verlander hit a season-high nine hits in six scoreless innings in the Astros’ 7-3 victory over the Red Sox at Minute Maid Park.

“I think I found something early on in my mechanics with my pregnancy that answered a lot of questions and defined the mechanics path I was looking for,” said Verlander. “I didn’t know how it would turn out, but I think the results were really good. El Filho jumped a bit, I was behind the ball better, the timing was better. It’s all very positive.”

Verlander (9-6) threw 96 pitches while giving up five hits, one walk and one batter. He caught 16 swings and fumbles (second-most this season), including 13 on his fastball, which averaged 95.1 mph (season average 94.3 mph). He’s 7-2 with a 2.17 ERA in his last 11 games.

“I think my fastball shape is back to how it was before,” said Verlander. “Earlier this season I was cutting all four seams a bit, and the spin wasn’t very effective. I’ve been trying for a long time to figure out how to get it back. It’s been slow getting there, but I feel like it’s the last piece of the puzzle, I hope. You can’t Getting started is only the beginning but the results today were really what I was looking for.

And just in time for the Astros, who are in a three-way battle in the American League West. Houston’s win kept the team half a game ahead of the Mariners, and also on the heels of the first-place Rangers.

“We need to answer the buzzer and play better baseball,” Verlander said. “We know the talent is here, and it’s time for you to leave. You can’t just wait. We were beaten by Seattle (who swept us at home last weekend), a very exciting team, they play really good baseball, they play really well.” ‘Obviously their offense is hot and these things happen. You can’t get off about it, though. It’s like ‘Okay, turn the page.’ Let’s go. Wake up.’ It’s nice to see we’re doing that.”

Kyle Tucker’s two-run homer off Red Sox outfielder Tanner Hawk, his 25th of the season, put the Astros ahead 2-0. Catcher Martín Maldonado drove in a run in the fourth with a sacrifice bunt, quickly scored on Mauricio Dupont from second when the Red Sox failed to cover home plate on first, and Houston poured in a four-run home run in the seventh.

Verlander and Red Sox manager Alex Cora exchanged words before the start of the second half, when Verlander pointed out that his PitchCom earphone wasn’t working. Cora came from the dugout, arguing that the veteran right-hander was using the loss of contact as a feint because the court timer was about to expire.

“Alex gets out there and starts arguing. I was shivering (at Maldonado) and[Cora]started saying my PitchCom was obviously working,” Verlander said. “I suppose he thought I was using it as a tactic. I wasn’t using it as a tactic. He just pointed at me and said something like, “Go to the show,” along those lines.

A heated microphone on the field detected a heated exchange between Verlander and Cora, which Verlander confirmed after the match.

“Partly, that was what I’d say, ‘I’m done with this. ‘” Do what you want, talk to the umpire, and I’ll worry about throwing, Verlander said.

Both Verlander and Cora said the exchange was in the heat of battle and there were no negative feelings.

“He’s one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the game,” said Cora, who was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing balls and strikes. “He did a good job today.”

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