Nothing can ever erase what the Astros did in 2017, but tonight was satisfying, at least. The Yankees beat Houston 7-3 and the crowd gave it to the Astros all night. It was wonderful.
Not only was this win cathartic, but it was also an exciting game. Giancarlo Stanton did big things on offense yet again (more on him coming) and there were a handful of dramatic plays. Some on defense, which was a pleasant surprise considering how ugly that had looked for the Yankees earlier this year. But the most exciting: how the Yankees took the lead for good on Alex Bregman’s throwing error in the sixth. Couldn’t have happened to a better guy. Anyway, let’s get to tonight’s takeaways:
Giancarlo Stanton slander will not be tolerated on this blog. There will always be a faction of fans who hate on Stanton. It’s just the nature of the beast with Yankees fans. Whether it’s the big contract, the injuries, or the strikeouts, a lot of folks just don’t have patience with Stanton. I just don’t get it.
Stanton’s on an absolute tear right now, and he’s shown up time and time again in big moments with the Yanks. He carried the load during the dog days of summer in 2018 and the team’s injuries mounted. Remember how he took Zack Greinke deep in Game 1 of the 2019 ALCS? He looked locked in before an injury hampered him the rest of that series unfortunately, but let’s not also forget how he dominated last postseason. And right now, Stanton is in the midst of yet another tear. Simply put: when Stanton is on the field, he rakes. How could you not love that?
Tonight, Stanton went 4-for-5 and fell a triple shy of the cycle. He’s up to a 10-game hitting streak and has raised his season line to .297/.343/.545 (149 wRC+) with 7 homers in 108 plate appearances. If you want to nitpick anything, you’d like to see him take a few more free passes. But that’s it.
Stanton’s homer tonight was an important one, by the way. It answered for Alex Bregman’s solo blast in the top of the first inning that momentarily quieted a raucous Yankee Stadium. Here’s the Stanton blast:
That gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Stanton later lasered a 117 MPH double to center and found a hole with an RBI single in the sixth.
I know it’s been frustrating to see injuries sideline Stanton in recent seasons. But when he’s been on the field, he’s been nothing short of excellent. Next time Stanton slumps — and he will, because everyone does — the boo birds will undoubtedly return, and undeservedly so. Somehow, Stanton will remain one of the most underappreciated players on this roster. It shouldn’t be that way.
It could have been worse for Domingo Germán. I’d consider five innings and three runs allowed against this Houston lineup a good result for Germán. At the same time, I don’t think Germán pitched well. His command was shaky and Houston made a lot of loud contact against him, including two homers (and nearly a third). His four-seamer was the main culprit tonight:
Germán threw too many non-competitive fastballs not close to the zone and too many heaters right down the pipe. And as a result, Alex Bregman and Michael Brantley made him pay:
Two no doubters. Germán’s fastball will never be mistaken for a top offering — that’s his curveball — but he needs to better execute it in order to pitch off it. Astoundingly, he entered tonight with an 85.7 percent hard hit rate against his four-seamer this season, which only went up tonight. And no, that number is not a typo. He had a 49 percent hard hit rate against the pitch in 2019, for what it’s worth.
Germán actually had more success with his sinker tonight, and perhaps his ratio of sinkers to four-seamers is something to consider going forward. Entering tonight, he’s thrown 30.1 percent four-seamers and 13.1 percent sinkers. Now, the sinker doesn’t look like anything special by the metrics, but it was also a more effective pitch for him in 2019 compared to his four-seamer judging by xwOBA and hard hit rate.
With Houston all over his fastball, Germán needed his curve and changeup to get through the opposing lineup in this one. And aside from Yuli Gurriel’s near homer against a changeup (an RBI double off the top of the left field wall), Germán had pretty good secondaries. The Astros whiffed on 36 percent of swings against either the curve or change, and also watched Germán drop in six curveballs for called strikes. At least that was working for him.
Home runs will always be a concern when Germán starts. He’s now given up 7 in 28 innings this season, which is undeniably bad. It’s a good thing the two tonight were of the solo variety, at least. The Astros have an incredibly potent lineup and could have hung up a lot more against tonight’s starter.
My idea of throwing more sinkers is merely me just throwing something at the wall and hoping it sticks, because really, this just might be who Germán is. Even though his four-seamer gets crushed, he does have a propensity to surrender the long ball on hangers too. Tonight just happened to be against his fastball.
- Yankee Stadium sounded great on tonight’s broadcast. It sure sounded a lot closer to a full capacity stadium than one capped at 25 percent. The boos were satisfying, the chants were crystal clear, and the crowd was relentless all the way through this one.
This atmosphere is indescribable. #Yankees fans just went from a “F*** the Astros” chant, to cheering when Brantley got out, to booing Alex Bregman, to breaking out in an “A**hole” chant. All in one minute! pic.twitter.com/TLSH3XXeXM— Max Goodman (@MaxTGoodman) May 4, 2021
- Really hope Rougned Odor’s leg injury isn’t serious. He was involved in a scary collision at home plate on the play that gave the Yankees the lead for good in this one. Here’s the play:
- Scary stuff. His knee buckled under Martín Maldonado. Odor will receive an MRI tonight, figure we’ll get more information tomorrow.
- What an exciting play, though, from start to finish. The Astros looked like they were about to escape a bases loaded jam with a tie in tact, but Alex Bregman threw away DJ LeMahieu’s slow dribbler to allow all three runs to score.
- Wasn’t it nice to see some nifty infield defense tonight? Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela combined for a couple of nice double plays. Tyler Wade chipped in a pretty slick leaping catch in the eighth, too.
- Rough night for Clint Frazier. In the first inning, with Zack Greinke clearly on the ropes, Frazier had a bad at-bat. The Yanks were already up 2-1 and loaded the bases for Frazier with no one out. Greinke fell behind 2-0, but Frazier hacked away at two pitches out of the zone and into a double play. Then, in the sixth, after Brandon Bielak had thrown five straight balls to start the inning, Frazier popped out on a hanging slider.
- The bullpen did its thing: Lucas Luetge, Jonathan Loaisiga, Wandy Peralta, and Chad Green shut out the Astros for the final four frames.
- Before you call it a night: Down on the Farm is back! Bobby’s got tonight’s minor league opening day action covered.
We do this all over again tomorrow. Same time, same teams, same place. Have a good night everyone.