Rockets outplay Jazz at their own game

PALLILO POINTS

In Sunday's series opener versus Utah, James Harden and the Rockets outplayed the Jazz in almost every facet of the game, including those that were supposed weaknesses for Houston. Charlie Pallilo thinks the Rockets and Warriors are on the fast-track to a rematch.

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Justin Verlander is making progress. Composite Getty Image.

Astros ace Justin Verlander pitched four innings Saturday night for Double-A Corpus Christi in what is expected to be his final minor league rehab outing before rejoining Houston's rotation.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner gave up six runs — five earned — and seven hits against the Frisco RoughRiders, a Texas Rangers affiliate. He struck out three, walked one and threw 51 of 77 pitches for strikes.

The 41-year-old Verlander opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder.

Verlander was charged with two wild pitches and two pitch-clock violations. He needed 42 pitches to get through the third as Frisco, aided by two Corpus Christi errors, scored six runs in the inning. But the right-hander retired his final five batters in a 10-3 loss before a crowd of 11,622 at Riders Field.

Verlander allowed six earned runs and struck out six while pitching into the fourth inning of his first rehabilitation start Sunday for Triple-A Sugar Land. He threw 65 pitches in that game.

“Looking for him to feel well the next day and hopefully get him back out pitching for us here pretty soon,” Houston manager Joe Espada said Friday.

Espada has said the Astros don't expect Verlander will need more than two minor league starts before making his season debut for Houston.

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