There was a lot going on at the stadium tonight. It was not only Star Wars Day, but also the first home game against Houston with fans in the stands since the sign-stealing scandal broke. The victory tonight was, I am sure, a cathartic experience for many of the lucky participants as boos and hunters rained down from the stands. And despite a bantha feed performance by Domingo Germán, a combination of record discipline, another dominant bullpen performance and a bit of luck pushed the Yankees’ offense to a 7-3 victory.
Germán took the pile, hoping his solo action could spur the Yankees to victory. Unfortunately, he hit more like Greedo and was blown up in the opening act, thanks to an initial Alex Bregman solo home run to spot the Astros an early lead. Best not to throw this pitch to a man who once finished as number two for the AL MVP:
Fortunately, the Yankees had an immediate response to this aggression from the rebel foam. DJ LeMahieu took off with a single fooled by Zack Greinke’s foot and into midfield. Giancarlo Stanton followed by the launch of a 2-0 hanging curveball in hyperspace. The two-run homer left his bat at 106.3 mph and landed 367 feet away in the seats to the left, giving the home team a 2-1 lead.
Then it was an imperial march of Yankees founders as Aaron Judge, Gio Urshela and Gleyber Torres all reached the base to upload them. Unfortunately, the Yankees were unable to deliver the decisive blow as Clint Frazier grounded in a double play to push only a single extra run over.
Yankees fans proved that the only people they want to boo higher than a cheating opponent is one of their own players, as they really let a grueling Aaron Hicks hear it when he figured out to end the first inning threat and keep the Astros in the game. Right now, it looks like Hicks would have a better chance of escaping Sarlacc than his current decline, but there may be a new hope on the horizon – something I want more on later this week.
Germán corrected the ship in the second – in terms of his own performance – as he retreated to the side in order, including strikes by Yuli Gurriel and Kyle Tucker. LeMahieu’s walk was the only action in the half as it looked like Greinke was getting his goal computer going again.
As soon as Germán regained his command in the second, he immediately lost it again in the third and served a massive solo shot, which Michael Brantley lifted into the suites at the top level. Yordan Alvarez then pointed up the middle and Gurriel missed a two-run home run to the left by about two inches as the ball bounced off the top of the padding. Alvarez scored on the game, and despite Germán escaping from the inning’s 3-3, I had a bad feeling about this – the Yankees should of course continue to trot him out there for more work.
The placement of Germán’s seats was generally serious throughout his outing – he often missed over the heart of the plate and was punished accordingly. Aside from the clean second inning, he looked worse than Luke after escaping the trash.
I tried not to get too excited about his two previous starts against Cleveland and the Orioles. It’s one thing to restrict runs against two of the league’s worst offenses; it’s another hero to be successful while constantly missing spots against playoff-caliber lineups. His last line of the night: five innings, four hits, three runs (including the pair of long balls), a walk, six strikes and 83 lanes.
Greinke was surprisingly drawn after 4 innings and only 85 lanes as it looked like he had settled down after the shaky first. Brandon Bielak came in relieved and handed over his first hit at the bottom of the fifth: an ion beam double, 117.4 km / h from Stanton’s bat.
Lucas Luetge came in for the sixth, and after a single-out by Bregman, he induced a ground ball that led to one of the most beautiful defensive games you will see this year. Torres caught it with a sliding play up the middle and turned to Urshela in second place, who pirouette and fired a ball to first to complete the doubles.
The Yankees loaded the bases at the bottom of the sixth via a Torres walk, Hicks single and Rougned Odor walk, bringing LeMahieu to the plate with two outs. At a 0-2 pitch, he nipped an infield single down on the third baseline.
Bregman first tried to shoot him out, but the throw was well wide for Gurriel so Higashioka and Odor could score. There was an ugly collision at the plate when Odor’s knee collided with Martín Maldonado’s face, leaving both players in visible pain on the home plate.
Smell had to be helped off the field while Maldonado left under his own power. Fortunately, Odor could be seen in the excavation after, and we hope it is nothing serious. * A scary finish to the play, but as it stood, the Yankees led 6-3.
* Yankees announced near the end of the game that Odor had a left knee injury and that he would undergo an MRI later tonight.
The game at the plate allowed LeMahieu to advance to second place, and he was singled out by Stanton on Big G’s third hit of the night. The referee struck out to end the inning, but not without the Yankees securing a 7-3 lead. Tyler Wade replaced Odor in second place, while Jason Castro replaced Maldonado behind the bowl for Houston.
Stanton collected his fourth hit of the night in the eighth, a 109.9 mph line drive blister to center-left. The Yankees threatened to go full force with star-studded doctors against the Astros when the referee and Gio designated and went to load the bases for Torres. It would have been a perfect time for him to eliminate goose eggs in the home run, but alas, a ground ball ended the inning and kept the score at 7-3 on the way to the ninth.
Chad Green got the last three outs in the game as the Yankees moved over .500 for the first time since April 6th. There was a lot to like about the offensive performance in this game (nine times drawn), and the Yankees bullpen did his normal bang-up job. It was also encouraging to see them win a potential playoff opponent.
Tomorrow, Jordan Montgomery will meet Luis Garcia. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET, so join us in the game thread. For now it’s good night, and maybe the strength be with you!