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Justin Verlander to make his Astros debut tonight

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SEATTLE — Justin Verlander will make his debut for the Houston Astros in the second game of a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday.

Verlander was dealt to the Astros by the Detroit Tigers on Thursday in exchange for a trio of prospects: right-handed pitcher Franklin Perez, outfielder Daz Cameron and catcher Jake Rogers.

In 28 starts for Detroit this year, the veteran right-hander went 10-8 with a 3.82 ERA, his highest ERA since 2014.

“It’s a new experience for him because he’s doing a lot of firsts all over again,” Astros manage A.J. Hinch said. “He describes it as being a new kid in school again, and that’s exactly how he’s been. He’s been getting to know a lot of guys, there’s been a lot of conversations, sort of a quick acclimation to him. …

“New uniform, new catcher, new environment, new manager, new everything, same Justin Verlander.”

Verlander has been excellent against the Mariners in two starts this season, going 12 2/3 innings and posting a 2.12 ERA, allowing nine hits with three walks and 19 strikeouts. However, he has not recorded a decision against Seattle this season.

For his career, Verlander is 10-8 with a 3.15 ERA in 22 starts against the Mariners.

“Hopefully we can bring a championship to a city that really could use something like that right now,” Verlander said, referring to the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. “Hopefully I can be a part of that and we can give this city something to rally around.”

Verlander’s addition adds a somewhat unwelcome storyline in the series for Seattle manager Scott Servais.

“I would have been fine if he stayed in Detroit,” Servais said. “He’s a very good pitcher. He’s very accomplished. We’ve certainly seen him this year at the top of his game.”

Seattle’s Kyle Seager (7-for-19, two homers, eight RBIs) has enjoyed some success against the former American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner. Mike Zunino (0-for-6) and Yonder Alonso (0-for-5) are still looking for their first hits against him.

Verlander’s Astros debut comes with the Mariners in the thick of the American League wild-card race. After Houston’s 6-2 victory on Monday, Seattle (69-69) is 2 1/2 games out in the second AL wild-card spot. Meanwhile, Houston (84-53) is comfortably leading the AL West by 13 1/2 games.

Even so, Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel said Monday that the big lead in the division only means the team can see the finish line. With the Astros having started a 10-game road trip on Monday, it is possible Houston could clinch before returning home.

“I know the clubhouse guys want us to celebrate on the road,” he quipped. “They don’t want to clean up the mess at home.”

Lefty Ariel Miranda (8-6, 4.85 ERA) will take the mound Tuesday for Seattle.

Miranda has pitched a career-high 150 1/3 innings in 2017, but he has struggled since July 1, going 1-2 with a 6.84 ERA in 10 starts during that span.

He has also struggled against Houston, going 0-2 with a 5.70 ERA in four starts this season. Miranda has a career record of 1-2 with a 4.99 ERA in five starts vs. Houston.

Astros slugger George Springer has feasted upon Miranda this season, going 4-for-13 (.308) with four homers, sporting an eye-popping 1.631 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Meanwhile, Miranda has quieted fellow Cuban Yuli Gurriel, who has gone 3-for-13 (.231) against his countryman.

Royals, Alex Gordon close to contract agreement

Alex Gordon
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MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports that the Royals and outfielder Alex Gordon are “getting close” to an agreement on a one-year contract. Terms of the deal aren’t yet known, but the Royals could make it official within the next few days.

Gordon, who turns 36 years old next month, hit .266/.345/.396 with 13 home runs and 76 RBI over 633 plate appearances with the Royals this past season. His offense has waned, owning an adjusted OPS of 84 since 2016 (100 is average), but he still plays decent defense.

Gordon has spent all 13 years of his major league career with the Royals. With the club in a rebuilding phase, he will serve as the clubhouse leader and be a mentor to younger players on the roster.