The Latest: Verlander first with 200 postseason strikeouts

MLB

HOUSTON (AP)The Latest on the World Series (all times local):

7:55 p.m.

Justin Verlander has become the first pitcher with 200 career strikeouts in the postseason.

The Houston Astros starter has four strikeouts through the first two innings against the Nationals, and the game is tied at 2-2.

After the first three Nationals in the game reached base, and two of them scored, Verlander struck out four of the next six.

John Smoltz, the big right-hander who was working the game on the Fox television broadcast, had been the postseason leader with 199 strikeouts.

Washington starter Stephen Strasburg has three strikeouts through the first two innings.

7:50 p.m.

Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels and Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers are both second-time winners of the Hank Aaron Awards that recognize the most outstanding offensive performer in each league.

Yelich took home the National League honor for the second year in a row. Trout also won the American League’s award in 2014.

The awards were established in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record. The latest winners were announced before Game 2 of the World Series.

Trout this season led the majors with a .483 on-base percentage, and led the AL with a .645 slugging percentage while hitting a career-best 45 home runs.

Yelich’s .671 slugging percentage topped the majors, and he led the NL with his .329 batting average. His 44 homers were a career high and he scored at least 100 runs for the third season in a row.

7: 45 p.m.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred discounts the drop in home runs during the postseason and expects to receive a new report from scientists on baseballs by the end of the year.

Batters finished the regular season with 6,776 home runs, shattering the previous record of 6,105 set two years ago.

The average of 2.79 homers per game has dropped to 2.29 in the postseason, with 71 long balls in 31 games entering Wednesday.

7:34 p.m.

Game 2 is off to a flying start.

Anthony Rendon got things going, putting the Nationals ahead with a two-run double high off the left field wall against Justin Verlander.

Alex Bregman then tied it in the bottom of the first inning, hitting a ball even higher and farther to left. The two-run homer off Stephen Strasburg made it 2-all.

So much for an ace pitching duel, so far.

7:08 p.m.

Game 2 of the World Series has started with a twist – from Simone Biles.

The Olympic champion gymnast did a twisting backflip from in front of the mound, then threw the ceremonial first pitch to Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick.

An on-target toss, too. The packed crowd at Minute Maid Park roared for Biles, who is from the Houston area.

The fans were still standing when Justin Verlander threw the first pitch for real, a ball to Trea Turner.

6:53 p.m.

Major League Baseball will speak with the Astros to determine whether the commissioner’s office or the club will handle any decision following an investigation into the conduct of Houston assistant general manager Brandon Taubman.

Commissioner Rob Manfred says MLB investigators were at work in their probe. Sports Illustrated reported Taubman yelled toward a group of female reporters about closer Roberto Osuna, who was suspended last year for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy.

Taubman has apologized for using language that was ”unprofessional and inappropriate” in the Houston clubhouse following the Astros’ pennant-winning victory over the New York Yankees.

4:40 p.m.

The World Series opener between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros narrowly averted setting a record low.

Washington’s 5-4 victory Tuesday night averaged 12,194,000 fans, according to national numbers from Nielsen. That edges the 12,191,000 who tuned in for San Francisco’s 7-1 win over Kansas City in the 2014 opener.

The numbers are down 11.4% from last year’s Game 1 between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers, which averaged 13.76 million viewers. The 2017 opener between Houston and LA averaged 14.7 million.

The game Tuesday still won the night for Fox. It was also the most-watched game of the postseason, surpassing the 7.47 million who watched Saturday’s Game 6 of the AL Championship Series between Houston and the New York Yankees.

According to Major League Baseball, the League Championship Series averaged 5.15 million viewers, which is down slightly from the 5.31 million average last season.

3 p.m.

Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch has made a couple of tweaks to his lineup for Game 2 of the World Series against the Washington Nationals.

A night after designated hitter Yordan Alvarez had two hits and drew a walk, Hinch moved the rookie up one spot in the lineup to bat sixth on Tuesday night. Alvarez switched places with shortstop Carlos Correa, who had a single and three strikeouts in Game 1. Robinson Chirinos was in the lineup to catch Justin Verlander after Martin Maldonado caught on Monday night.

The Nationals went with the same lineup they had in their 5-4 victory in Game 1 as they try to maintain a lead with Stephen Strasburg on the mound before the series shifts to Washington for Game 3 on Friday.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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