HOUSTON — Justin Verlander was magnificent.
The White Sox were no match, except for one Jose Abreu swing that may have prevented them from being no-hit.
Verlander (8-1, 2.24 ERA) struck out a season high 12 and gave up only Abreu’s homer in eight innings. The blast to center with one out in the seventh in a 5-1 loss was Abreu’s sixth home run of his career against Verlander, who was bidding for his third career no-no with former Astro Nolan Ryan (seven no-hitters) watching at Minute Maid Park.
“I was just trying to make hard contact,” Abreu said. “At least we got something on the scoreboard.”
Aside from Tim Anderson’s liner to right in the second, there was nothing else close to a hit. And manager Rick Renteria had no qualms about his hitters’ approaches.
“Against a former Cy Young award winner? They did everything they possibly could against this guy,” Renteria said.
Dylan Covey (0-3) trailed 1-0 on Yuli Gurriel’s homer before setting up a four-run fifth by walking the first two batters and going to a 2-0 count on the third before being relieved by Aaron Bummer.
The Sox (21-26) have lost two straight to start a seven-game road trip.
Right-hander Jose Ruiz (5.11 ERA), who pitched a scoreless inning, was optioned to Class AAA Charlotte after the game. A corresponding move for another relief pitcher will be made Wednesday.
Renteria said working with outfielders coach Daryl Boston and more game experience can make Eloy Jimenez a capable defender. Jimenez, who has had a few struggles in left field, made a sliding catch Tuesday. He had tough time at the plate, though, striking out all three times.
“Time will show, as long as he’s committed to work and he trusts himself out there, he’ll at minimum be an average [defensive] outfielder,” Renteria said.
Some scouts view Jimenez as a designated hitter, but not Renteria. Not now, anyway.
“I don’t even think of him as a DH,” Renteria said.
Jimenez doesn’t, either.
“No,” he said. “Outfield every day. I don’t like the DH spot.”
Banuelos to test shoulder
Manny Banuelos, whose sore shoulder landed him on the injured list and prompted the Sox to fill his spot with a bullpen day Monday in a 3-0 loss to the Astros, is still a possibility to start Saturday against the Twins. Banuelos played catch Tuesday and will throw a bullpen session Wednesday.
Banuelos, who has made five starts, is eligible to come off the IL on Saturday, which is listed as TBA. A minor-league call-up or even another bullpen day are possibilities if Banuelos (2-3, 7.26 ERA) can’t go.
Since being called up from Class AAA Charottle, outfielder Charlie Tilson has hit safely in 11 of 14 games through Monday, batting .327/.365/.365.
“He’s not going to blow you away with any particular thing, but he gives you a really good at-bat,” Renteria said. “He can play the game in all facets. He’s one of those kids we learn to appreciate more as he plays more.’’
Guillen weighs in
Friction between Mets third baseman Todd Frazier and Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton, apparently stemming from an altercation while both were with the Sox in 2016, has been a topic of conversation during a series between the two NL East rivals with both trading barbs on the field and through the media.
Former Sox manager Ozzie Guillen weighed in with some candid comments during the Sox’ pregame show on NBCSCH.
I can say one thing about it,’’ Guillen said. “Eaton, nobody liked you in a White Sox uniform in the clubhouse. OK. That’s what I know. I’m just being honest.’’