Astros manager A.J. Hinch said veteran Justin Verlander will start on Opening Day, the Houston Chronicle reports. The Astros begin the regular season on March 29 on the road against the Rangers. Presumably, Verlander will pitch opposite Cole Hamels in a battle among state rivals.
Verlander ends Dallas Keuchel‘s streak of three consecutive Opening Day starts for the Astros. This will be Verlander’s 10th career Opening Day start. The right-hander opened the season seven consecutive seasons from 2008-14 for the Tigers and twice more in 2016-17.
The Astros acquired Verlander at the end of August last season in preparation for the playoffs. The move paid huge dividends as Verlander posted a 1.06 ERA across five starts with the Astros to end the regular season. In the playoffs, Verlander held the opposition to nine runs across 36 2/3 innings. That included two solid starts against the Dodgers in Games 2 and 6 of the World Series, helping the Astros win their first ever championship.
Verlander, 35, is under contract for two more seasons, earning $28 million both years. He also has a vesting option for 2020 worth $22 million.
In between one inning during every home game at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillie Phanatic will drive around the edge of the playing field shooting hot dogs into the stands from a pneumatic gun — a hot dog cannon, if you will — mounted on an ATV. Until Monday night, a fan had never been injured during this event.
Sarah Bloomquist of 6 ABC reports that, unfortunately, a Phillies fan was injured on Monday night when the Phillies opened a three-game home series with the Cardinals. Kathy McVay of Plymouth Meeting, PA was hit in the face. McVay said, “I have a small hematoma in my eye. And mostly, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. It’s going to go down the side of my face.” She also suffered cuts and bruises and had to be taken to the hospital to be tested for a concussion.
McVay doesn’t plan to take legal action against the Phillies and seems to be taking the injury with a good sense of humor. She said, “It gives people a good laugh, and if that makes somebody chuckle, then that’s fine.” McVay also advised fellow fans, “Just to be aware, because you never know. I understand a baseball, but not a hot dog.”
The Phillies reached out to apologize to McVay on Tuesday and offered her tickets to another game once she heals, assuming she would like to return to Citizens Bank Park.
One wonders if Monday’s incident might motivate the Phillies to do away with the hot dog cannon stunt. There’s really nothing gained by doing it, and there are plenty of other ways for the Phanatic to have fun with the fans around the ballpark.