The Yankees started out their four-game series with Houston in style, hitting four home runs en route to a 10-6 win over the Astros. The Yankees have now won six straight games and hold the American League’s second-best record.
The Bombers have also homered in 23 straight games, two games shy of the club record.
1. Yankees putting up 6-spots on the regular
Imagine having to face this lineup. Now imagine adding Aaron Judge to it. Oh lord.
A day before Judge was activated, the Yankees had their third six-run inning in the last two games while batting around yet again. Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu all went deep in the fourth inning.
This is what the Yankees can do to teams, go from nothing to fireworks in seconds. Left-handers are going to have a lot of trouble, as Framber Valdez and Blake Snell did the last two nights.
The first three innings were a clinic from Valdez, who had his sinker and curveball working well the first time through the order. A lot of weak grounders. Sanchez singled off the wall in right, Brett Gardner walked and that was it until the fourth.
And then Sanchez launched one on an inside fastball to lead off the frame.
That was his 22nd of the year, tying Edwin Encarnacion for the AL lead (for the moment).
Giancarlo Stanton got in on the action with his first hit since coming off the IL, a line drive off Valdez’s nearly unhittable curve. Encarnacion drew a walk to set up Torres, who attacked a fastball on the first pitch
That’s two 3+ run homers in two days for Torres. Between that and a Cameron Maybin walk, the Yankees knocked out Valdez before he could get a second out in an exhausting inning.
As rain took over the field, LeMahieu homered to dead center off reliever Chris Devenski. Only a 30-min rain delay could stop the Yankees’ rally, which ended with six runs on five hits, two walks and a whole heap of pitches.
2. Green-Cortes remains an elite opening act
You can’t say enough about what Chad Green and Nestor Cortes Jr. have done in their opening games this season. Since their first combined one in which they gave up five combined runs, they’ve been electric.
This time out, the duo held Houston to two runs over five innings against a tough Houston lineup. The two runs came on a pair of home runs against Cortes in the fifth inning, one a porch job by Jake Marisnick and the other to left field by Alex Bregman. You can live with that in a 6-0 game.
Green, meanwhile, was 2017 Green for a night. He’s really been that way for three weeks, but especially tonight. Bregman went toe-to-toe with him for eight pitches to lead off before Green got him to strike out looking, a rarity for the star infielder. He blew balls by rookie Yordan Alvarez. He averaged 97.1 mph on his fastball and commanded his slider well en route to two scoreless innings.
Cortes did what he always does: go to his bag of tricks. He struck out his first batter by going sidearm, quick pitched Michael Brantley in his final at-bat and just threw everything he had at this one. The two homers came after a rain delay and the long bottom of the fourth inning, so perhaps some rust was to blame.
His hardest stretch was the third inning with the game tied. The southpaw got his first two batters out before Bregman walked and Brantley got an infield single. He fell behind Jose Altuve 2-0, but kept his composure and got any easy flyout two batters later. I keep expected the clock to strike midnight on Cortes, but the slipper still fits.
3. Maybin, Encarnacion tack on
You may be reading this after the Yankees have made their roster decision, but there was no way the Yankees could let Maybin go right now. He’s positively on fire and he’s too valuable to lose for nothing.
In the fifth inning, after Houston cut it to 6-2, Encarnacion walked again while Gleyber lined a single against a new reliever, Josh James. The young righty got behind Maybin 3-0 and the veteran let it rip while ahead in the count, lacing a hard grounder down the left field line for two runs.
Maybin is now 16-for-40 with three doubles, four home runs and a walk since June 5. He even stole a base Thursday night. For an outfielder acquired for $25,000, he’s an absolute steal.
Meanwhile, after Houston added a run on an Alvarez scorcher off Tommy Kahnle and threatened against David Hale, the Yankees made sure to put teh game away in the seventh inning.
Stanton singled — he’s looking good! — before the parrot was walked by Encarnacion, his 23rd homer of the year to grab the AL lead back from his teammate.
4. Hale Not Hearty
Kahnle allowed a home run on a 3-0 pitch to Alvarez — the rookie’s fifth dinger — but he also unleashed his nastiest changeup of the year to strike out Altuve. I was fine with the homer; Why not challenge the rookie on a 3-0 pitch?
But David Hale didn’t get the job done. He was asked to get the final three innings and got close yet only gave the Yankees eight outs while throwing 65 pitches. Have to imagine he might get DFA’d for a fresh arm after that.
He was in and out of trouble to the point where Zack Britton warmed up and then Hale made it a save situation in the ninth inning, prompting Aroldis Chapman to come in for a one-out save. It’s Not What You Want.
Chapman dialed it up to 102 mph against Josh Reddick and needed just seven pitches to get a pop out. While this game got close, it never really felt like Houston would win after the fourth inning.
- There was a 27-minute rain delay in the fourth inning.
- UPDATE 11:57 p.m.: NESTOR CORTES JR. was optioned to Triple-A as the move for Aaron Judge. Maybin, Cessa and Hale stay.
- Who is the Yankees’ long man Friday?
- Luis Cessa went two innings Wednesday while Hale went 65 pitches. Holder? Or is another move coming?
- Marisnick hit two homers, one off Cortes and one off Hale.
- Stanton had three hits (last an infield hit), Sanchez and Torres each had two, while LeMahieu, Maybin, Encarnacion, Gardner and Luke Voit each had one. Only Didi Gregorius didn’t get in on the party.
Friday’s game will pit James Paxton (4-3, 3.93 ERA) against RHP Brad Peacock (6-4, 3.67). It’ll be another 7:05 p.m. EDT start, this time on PIX 11 and MLB Network for those out of market.