Friday, July 1, 2022

Astros Astounded Against New York Teams


Houston's Justin Verlander pitching to Aaron judge of the Yankees on Friday, June 24. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Houston Astros capped off their week against the New York teams with a 2-1 victory over the Yankees on Thursday evening in Houston, in which they won seven out of nine games. They won three of the five games against the Yankees, including a split of the four in New York last weekend, and won all four against the Mets, played in a pair of two-game sets in each city. The most notable things in the run were the combined no-hitter they had against the Yankees last Saturday, and Justin Verlander notching a pair of victories at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.

The Astros, the defending American League Champions, started the season slow, as they were 11-11 on May 1, then they won 11 in a row before splitting their next 14 games, and had a record of 29-18 on May 28, and their lead in the American League West was just 2 1/2 games. Now,they are 48-27, and have an 11 1/2 game lead over the Texas Rangers (36-38). The only team with a bigger lead in a divisional race is the Yankees (56-21), who are 12 1/2 games ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox.

Let's look at their nine games against the New York teams:

Tuesday, June 21: Astros 8, Mets 2: The Astros jumped out to an early lead in the third inning against Mets starter Trevor Williams, as Jose Altuve had a solo home run, followed by a two-run shot from Yordan Alvarez. They blew it open in the fifth when Kyle Tucker had a grand slam against Chasen Shreve to make it 7-0.

Wednesday, June 22: Astros 5, Mets 3: 

The Astros got off to an even quicker start on Wednesday afternoon, as they put up four runs in the first inning against Mets starter Carlos Carrasco. Michael Brantley had an RBI double, Alex Bregman had a two-run home run, and Yordan Alvarez had a solo shot. That was the first of a pair of dingers for Alvarez, as he also had a solo shot in third, giving him 21 home runs to that point in the season.

Thursday, June 23: Yankees 7, Astros 6

The Yankees were trailing 6-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, and Houston had their closer, Ryan Pressly, pitching, and the Yankees put together a trademark inning. Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres opened it with walks before Aaron Hicks hit a three-run home run to right field to tie it, the latest clutch hit for the Yankees' left fielder (click here to read more on Hicks' resurgence).

Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled, but he was caught stealing for the first out of the ninth. Jose Trevino then followed with a single, and since Pressly was already at 26 pitches, that was all for his night.

Ryen Stanek was next out of the Houston bullpen, and he struck out Joey Gallo for the second out. DJ LeMahieu walked to give the Yankees two runners on base for Aaron Judge, and he took it the other way, down the right field line, to bring in Trevino and give the Yankees the 7-6 win. Click here to read the full article on this game.

Friday, June 24: Astros 3, Yankees 1

Luis Severino got the start for the Yankees, and came out firing, as he retired Houston in order through the first three innings, with four of the nine outs coming via strikeout.

Verlander, on the other hand, battled through the first two innings. He worked around an Anthony Rizzo walk in the first, and then gave up a leadoff double to Josh Donaldson to start the second, and he stayed there as he got fly balls from Gleyber Torres and Aaron Hicks, and then after hitting Isiah Kiner-Falefa with a pitch, striking out Kyle Higashioka to end the frame. The Yankees worked Verlander for 41 pitches in the first two innings.

Houston got a couple runners on in the fourth, and Severino got out of it by getting Kyle Tucker to fly out to left. In the fifth, Yuli Gurriel led off with a double, followed by an Aledmys Diaz single,but Severino recovered by striking out Jason Castro, Jake Meyers, and Jose Altuve, which brought a massive ovation from the crowd as he draws the most ire from Yankee fans still steamed about the sign-stealing scandal from the 2017 postseason.

Houston came right back in the sixth. After Severino got Michael Brantley to dribble one to first, Alex Bregman doubled and Yordan Alvarez walked. Kyle Tucker then hit a bomb to right field for a three-run homer. 

The Yankees then got one back in the bottom half of the sixth when Giancarlo Stanton connected for a solo shot to right field, his 16th homer of the season to make it 3-1 Houston. Verlander then got Donaldson to line out to shortstop and Torres to ground out to second base to end the inning.

Severino would not come back out for the seventh, so his final line was: 6 innings pitched, 5 hits, 3 runs (all earned), 2 walks, 7 strikeouts, 95 pitches (59 strikes).

Verlander outlasted him, as stayed on for the seventh, and retired the Yankees in order to close out his night. His final line read: 7 innings pitched, 4 hits, 1 runs (earned), 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 102 pitches (65 strikes).

In the bottom of the eighth, with Phil Maton came on for Houston in the eighth, and DJ LeMahieu singled and Anthony Rizzo drew a walk, but he struck out the side - Judge (which actully was between LeMahieu and Rizzo), Stanton, and Donaldson - to get out of the jam.

In the ninth, ex-Met Rafael Montero, who has found a home in the Houston bullpen, came on to close it out. He started off by getting Torres to fly out to left, and then walked Hicks before getting Kiner-Falefa to gorund out to short. Luckily, it was not a double play ball because it took a few hops, allowing Hicks to sneak into second. That brought Matt Carpenter up as a pinch-hitter for Higashioka, and he drew a walk to put the tying runs on base, but LeMahieu grounded out to third base to end it.

Verlander improved to 9-3 on the season, and lowered his ERA to 2.22, while Montero earned his fifth save. Severino fell to 4-2, and saw his ERA tick up to 3.38. Click here for our full coverage of this one.

Saturday, June 25: Astros 3, Yankees 0

A trio of  Houston Astros pitchers - starter Cristian Javier and relievers Hector Neris and Ryan Pressly -  no-hit the Yankees on Saturday afternoon, as they won 3-0, the second straight win for Houston at Yankee Stadium.

Javier went seven innings, with 13 strikeouts, and he retired 21 of the 23 hitters he faced, allowing just two runners to get on base, as he walked Josh Donaldson in the first, and Donaldson then reached again in the seventh on an error by third baseman Alex Bregman. He earned the win to improve to 5-3 on the season, and lower his ERA (earned run average) to 2.73.

Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole kept pace with him until the seventh when J.J. Matijevic hit a solo home run to break the tie and make it 1-0 Houston at the time. That broke a 21-inning scoreless inning streak at home that began with the seventh inning on May 23 against Baltimore up until the sixth inning in this one. Cole left after the seventh inning, as he allowed just that run on four hits and two walks, with eight strikeouts, as his record fell to 6-2.

Hector Neris was first out of the bullpen for Houston in the eighth, and he worked around a pair of walks to Aaron Hicks to open the inning, and DJ LeMahieu (who pinch-hit for Marwin Gonzalez) with one out. Neris then got Joey Gallo to fly out to deep center field, and Aaron Judge to line into a force out to shortstop Aledmys Diaz.

Ryan Pressly, who gave up the three-run game-tying home run to Hicks in Thursday night's 7-6 Yankees win, came on for the ninth seeking redemption, and he got it. He struck out Anthony Rizzo and Donaldson before Giancarlo Stanton grounded out to Bregman to end it, and he earned his 15th save of the season. Click here for the full coverage of this historic day.

Sunday, June 26: Yankees 6, Astros 3

The Yankees fell behind 3-0 early, as Jose Altuve led off the game with a home runs against Yankees starter Nestor Cortes, and then in the fourth, Mauricio Dubon got a two-run single. Through all of this, the Yankees were being no-hit by Jose Urquidy, all the way through one out in the seventh inning, one day after three Houston pitchers - Cristian Javier, Hector Neris, and Ryan Pressly - no-hit them. 

One would think this game is long over, like how does a team rise up to win it after seeing their hitters being demoralized for two afternoons? The 2022 Yankees have shown they don't think like that.

Giancarlo Stanton ended the no-hit bid with one out in the seventh inning with a bang when he hit a colossal shot to center field for a solo home run, his 17th of the season to make it 3-1 Houston.

That started a Yankee offensive barrage, as DJ LeMahieu tied it with a two-run shot in the eighth, and Aaron Judge hit a three-run shot in the 10th, his 28th of the season, to give the Yankees the walk-off win. Click here to read the full piece this was included in, "Yankees Thrive on Intangibles, What Boone Calls "Key ingredients to the whole thing"

Tuesday, June 28: Astros 9, Mets 1

Kyle Tucker after crossing the plate on his three-run homer in the first inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

Carlos Carrasco had his second tough outing against Houston in a week, as he lasted just 4 1/3 innings, allowing six runs (all earned) on six hits and three walks, with four strikeouts. His record is now 8-4 and his ERA (earned run average) jumped to 4.85.

Houston got on the board in the first inning when Alex Bregman got an RBI single, and then Kyle Tucker followed with a three-run home run, his 15th of the year, to make it 4-0. In the fourth, Tucker drew a walk and scored on a single by Jake Meyers to make it 5-0.

The Mets finally got a chance against Houston's starter Framber Valdez in the fourth inning when Starling Marte opened the inning with a double, then Francisco Lindor walked. Pete Alonso then grounded out, then J.D. Davis struck out, but Eduardo Escobar kept the inning going as he walked to load the bases. Mark Canha grounded into a force out to end the chance.

In the fifth, Carrasco allowed a one-out walk to Jeremy Pena, and that was it for him. Left-hander Chasen Shreve came in to face Yordan Alvarez, and he crushed one to center field for a two-run homer, his 23rd of the year, to make it 7-0. Bregman followed with a single, and he came in on a two-run blast by Yuri Gurriel to open up a 9-0 lead for the Astros.

Valdez threw eight shutout innings, allowing no runs on six hits and two walks, with five strikeouts, to improve to 8-3 and lower his ERA to 2.65. Click here to read the full story.

Wednesday, June 29: Astros 2, Mets 0

Justin Verlander got the start for Houston, and he was incredible, going eight innings, allowing no runs on just two hits and a walk, while striking out six. The ageless wonder, at age 39, is now 10-3 with a 2.03 ERA.

The Mets' best chance against him was in the first inning when Brandon Nimmo hit the very first pitch of the game for a double up the left-center field gap. Starling Marte then swung at the first pitch he also saw, but he hit a lazy fly ball to center. Francisco Lindor hit a ground out to first base for the second out, which did move Nimmo to third base. Pete Alonso then drew a walk, so the Mets had two on base for Jeff McNeil, but he struck out.

That began a stretch in which Verlander retired twelve straight Mets in a row, and was broken up by a dribbler down the first base line by Ender Inciarte, who was playing in his second game with Mets, with this being his first hit, with two outs in the fifth. 

Tomas Nido then grounded out to third base to end the frame, and that began a run in which Verlander retired 10 in a row to end his afternoon. 

Mets starter Taijuan Walker matched Verlander for 7 1/3 innings, in which he didn't allow a run on four hits and two walks, with three strikeouts. Walker had the type of game he specualizes in, as he got the Astros to make 12 outs to the third baseman Luis Guillorme, with ten of them on the ground and two of them for force outs, and one started a double play hit into by Yuri Gurriel to end the fourth.

Walker left after getting Jake Meyers to ground out to third for the first out of the eighth inning, and the Mets, showing the importance of this game, turned to their closer, Edwin Diaz, as the Houston lineup turned over.

Diaz hit Jose Altuve with a pitch, followed by a single by Jeremy Pena, but Diaz got out of it by striking out Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman.

Drew Smith came out of the Mets bullpen forthe ninth inning, and he allowed a single to Kyle Tucker, who was then erased in a force out hit into by Gurriel before Aledmys Diaz flew out for the second out. Castro followed with the two-run shot to right field, his first of the season, to break the scoreless tie and make it 2-0.

Ryan Pressly came on to close it for Houston, and he retired the Mets in order to earn his 16th save of the season. Click here for the full report.

Thursday, June 30: Astros 2, Yankees 1

In this makeup game lost to the lockout played down in Houston, the Astros won it with a two-run home runs from Alex Bregman in the third inning, which was his 16th of the season, and more great pitching. 

Houston starting pitcher Luis Garcia went 5 1/3 innings, in which he allowed a run on three this and two walks, with six strikeouts to earn the win and improve to 6-5. 

The one run the Yankees got off Garcia was an Anthon Rizzo solo home run in the sixth, for his 21st homer of the season, and that was the last batter Garcia faced.

Luis Severino started for the Yankees, and he suffered his second hard-luck loss to the Astros in a week, as he went six innings, allowing just two runs on three hits and two walks, with four strikeouts. He is now 4-3 on the season.

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