Behind terrific efforts from their bullpen, defense, and designated hitter, the New York Yankees dumped the Houston Astros by a score of 7-3 in their first meeting since 2019. “It’s what we’ve been waiting for for a few years, and what they’ve been waiting for,” said Giancarlo Stanton in the postgame.
His sentiments were certainly felt by the raucous ‘sell-out’ crowd in the Bronx, who showered the likes of José Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa with vociferous jeers all evening. While a leadoff homer from Bregman soured spirits early, the Yankees offense stepped up again alongside their clinical bullpen to deliver a fourth-straight win. Here’s how it happened:
A Bomb and a Blooper Provide the Spark
The Yankees offense, notably Stanton, picked up right where the left off following the off-day. Following a leadoff single from DJ LeMahieu, Stanton hit a moonshot to make it 2-1. His 7th HR of the year, Stanton quickly extended his hitting streak to 10 games. The next three Yankees reached off a struggling Zack Greinke, but Clint Frazier then grounded into a double-play. That plated Aaron Judge but effectively ended the threat. As Greinke settled down with his fascinating array of pitches and arm speeds, so did the Yankees bats.
Once into the Astros bullpen, the Yankees feasted again, albeit with a little help from some poor defense. Reliever Brandon Bielak started the trouble with a four-pitch walk to Gleyber Torres in the 6th. Aaron Hicks singled through the shortstop hole but was forced at 2nd on a slow roller from Kyle Higashioka. With two outs, Dusty Baker brought in yet another righty reliever to face the left-handed Rougned Odor. The Venezuelan walked on four pitches, loading the bases and allowing the turning point of the game.
LeMahieu squibbed a roller to Bregman at third, who barehanded and threw errantly. Torres scored on the infield single and both Higashioka and Odor came around on the error. However, the Yankees 2nd baseman neglected to slide at home and landed awkwardly between Maldonado and home, touching the plate and kneeing the Astros catcher in the head. Odor excruciatingly twisted his knee and both players were forced to leave the game, albeit thankfully under their own power. Stanton added another RBI single thereafter, rounding out the Yankees scoring for the evening.
Yankees Bullpen Zeroes in Yet Again
With an extra days’ rest, Domingo Germán hoped to build on his two wins following his alternate site demotion. Alex Bregman greeted the right-hander rudely with a 2-out solo homer into the Astros’ bullpen. Germán’s struck out three over the next two innings, but things unraveled in the 4th, as Michael Brantley clobbered a leadoff homer into the suite-level in right. After striking out Bregman, Yordan Alvarez singled and Yuli Gurriel just missed a 2-run homer, bouncing one just out of Frazier’s reach off the top of the wall. Those three runs would be all Germán would allow, as he settled down to finish five innings and strike out six overall.
With the Germán out, the Yankees defense took centerstage to guide their bullpen through the rest of the game. Gio Urshela and Torres turned an outstanding double play in a shifted infield behind Lucas Luetge, who earned his 2nd win of the season in relief. That same pair would turn a far easier twin-killing in the 7th behind Jonathan Loaisiga. Wandy Peralta entered in the 8th, allowing Altuve to lash a liner snared by a leaping Tyler Wade. Finally, Chad Green added two strikeouts to his tally for the season in the 9th to close out the win.
On an absolute tear, Stanton raised his average to .297 tonight with his four hits. Consistently connecting with strikes and sending lasers all over the diamond, Stanton almost singlehandedly rejuvenated the Yankees’ previously floundering offense. The move by Aaron Boone to switch Stanton and Judge to batting 2nd and 3rd respectively shouldn’t be overlooked as a big part of this breakout.
While the Yankees await Odor’s status following the collision, Luke Voit started his rehab assignment with AAA Scranton. He DH’d and went 2-3 with a double in his first at-bat. The slugger will be a welcome addition to the Yankees lineup when he returns, potentially by the next road trip.