In a highly anticipated pitching matchup between former teammates Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, the Houston Astros soundly defeated the Texas Rangers 12-3 to maintain a one-game lead in the AL West.

The game Wednesday night was the first time Verlander and Scherzer had ever faced off. The two future Hall-of-Famers were teammates on the Detroit Tigers from 2010 to 2014 and again earlier this season with the New York Mets. They were traded to opposing AL West rivals at the trade deadline as both the Astros and Rangers seek a hotly contested division title.

But in a game many expected to be closely contested with two aces on the mound, the Astros quickly overwhelmed Scherzer and took a 7-1 lead after three innings. Scherzer did not make it to the fourth inning, but Verlander went on to pitch seven, allowing a home run in the first inning but allowing no further runs while striking out six batters. Houston tacked on another run in the fifth and four in the ninth to cruise to a 12-3 win.

“I couldn’t get all the way through the ball, couldn’t explode through the ball,” Scherzer said after the game. “I can go out there and compete. I went out there against Minnesota last time kind of with a similar issue and was able to compete and locate. … Today, just didn’t get it done and didn’t locate the ball well enough.”


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In 26 starts this season, Scherzer has earned a 12-6 record with a 3.91 ERA, his highest since 2011. Though he has made several solid starts for Texas, he has not provided the punch many expected him to as the team fights for the division. While the Astros recently took the lead with an 80-61 record and the surging Mariners sit just behind them at 78-61, the Rangers are now three games back at 76-63.

After leading the division for most of the year, if the season ended today, the Rangers would not even have a postseason berth, as they are currently a half-game out of the last Wild Card spot behind the Toronto Blue Jays. Seven games against the Mariners at the end of the month may end up determining the season.

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