Astros’ Justin Verlander blames rough Game 4 outing on ‘bad slider,’ not short rest

Justin Verlander struggled Tuesday against the Rays in Game 4 of the American League Division Series on just three days of rest, but the Astros ace insists the issue was a bad slider.

“I didn’t know what to expect, and I wasn’t taking anything into it. Not expecting anything. I was expecting to be normal,” Verlander told reporters (via ESPN) after the 4-1 loss. “The low-hanging fruit is to sit there and say this was short rest and that’s the reason why. I don’t think so. I felt good, body felt good physically. I just didn’t execute the way I needed to.

“Really the slider was the worst it’s been all year. I needed something to go our way, and when I made mistakes, they really capitalized on them with runners on base. It killed us.”

Verlander, 36, lasted only 3 2/3 innings, giving up all four earned runs — three in the first — on seven hits while striking out five and walking three on 84 pitches (52 strikes).

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