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Syndergaard bests Verlander in return, Helos tops Astros 2-0

ANAHEIM, Calif. ( Associated Press) — Noah Syndergaard pitched a two-hit ball in a strong sixth inning Angels debut, scoring a 2-0 win over the Houston Astros on Saturday night to beat fellow Tommy John surgery returnee Justin Verlander in Los Angeles.

Mike Trout and Jared Walsh took home the Angels’ first win of the season. The Halos held the defending AL champion Houston in two hits, with Raicel Iglesias saving 3 2/3 hitless innings from the bullpen.

Syndergaard (1-0) and Verlander (0-1) have both returned from long absences this season following elbow surgery, and both legends put on impressive performances at Engel Stadium.

Syndergaard scored two weak singles and two runs in 5 1/3 innings. While the right-handed batsman, known as Thor, had just one strike, he inspired 11 groundouts from the Astros’ powerful lineup.

Verlander pitched five innings of a one-run ball, hitting three – including Walsh’s homer – and three times while avoiding multiple spots of trouble. He dismissed Seven twice, including AL MVP Shohei Ohtani.

Trout’s first homer since May 4 was a beauty, hitting 445 feet with a 98.8-mph fastball—the fastest pitch Trout ever hit out of the yard—from Rene Stanek. The three-time AL MVP missed the final 4 1/2 months of last season with a calf injury.

Syndergaard was limited to two one-inning appearances – both late last year – working for the Mets the last two seasons while coming back from surgery. He signed a one-year, $21 million deal with Los Angeles and emerged from spring training with a healthy hand and a determination to show he was back.

Verlander had surgery in September 2020 and missed the previous season while recovering. Now 39, the two-time AL Cy Young winner looks like he has been able to resume his career at his traditional elite level, and the start of his comeback looked promising.

Walsh mashed the first pitch of Verlander’s second innings at deep center for the Angels’ first homer of the season.

Verlander struck Ohtani twice with inside pitches, which painted black, although both calls angered the AL MVP. Verlander celebrated with a subtle fist-pump when he escaped the fifth inning jam by fanning Ohtani and then retired Trout on the flyout to trap the two Angels.

for nikki

Syndergaard wears the number 34 again for Angels, as he did in New York, but it has a special meaning in Anaheim.

It’s also exactly the number worn by promising Angels starter Nick Edenhart, who was killed by a drunk driver hours after he threw six shutout innings at Big A on Saturday 13 years ago. Syndergaard was blessed by Edenhart’s family to wear the number, which had not been worn by any Angels player since.

instructor room

Angels SS David Fletcher and Astros 3B Alex Bregman did not start to rest. Fletcher went out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, and Bregman was out in the ninth. … Astros RHP Lance McCullers Jr. could start throwing next week, said manager Dusty Baker. The flexor tendon issue of the maculars kept him out of spring training.

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Angels LHP Jose Suárez begins his season in the series finale against Houston’s Jose Urquidi. Both pitchers won eight games last season, breaking as full-time starts.

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More Associated Press MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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