The Yankees really couldn’t have asked for a better game in their first return to Houston since the 2019 ALCS than the one they got tonight. Great pitching, minimal drama, and timely hitting – if the post-All Star Break Yankees can tap into the vibe of today’s 4-0 win more often, we could still get some enjoyable baseball down the stretch. To the takeaways –
Daily Doubles. The Yankees came into the game with the fewest doubles of any team in baseball, indicative of their overall offensive woes this year, but broke out the two-base bats today with some clutch hitting throughout the evening. They broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fourth after Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela lined a pair of singles, setting up a two-out, two-run double off the bat of Brett Gardner against starter Jake Odorizzi. Insurance runs came in the 7th, when Brett Gardner walked and Tyler Wade skillfully hit against the shift, poking an opposite field double down the left field line to put runners on second and third. DJ LeMahieu worked a 10-pitch at bat against reliever Bryan Abreu, showing great poise and tenacity after falling behind 0-2, and then smacked a double to left to extend the lead to 4-0. LeMahieu is hitting .311 since June 19. The Yankees totaled 12 hits today, including 4 doubles.
Nasty Nestor. Nestor Cortes Jr. was pretty excellent over 4.2 innings today, surrendering only two hits and no runs over 72 pitches. He induced a lot of soft contact, as the Astros’ exit velocity against him averaged only 85.6 mph. Cortes is not a hard thrower, topping his four-seamer out in the low 90s, but managed to miss barrels all night against a really excellent offense – the Astros are first in the majors in runs, OBP, and OPS. He’s been great overall over 25.2 innings this year, as he lowered his ERA to 1.05. Nobody would have predicted Nestor Cortes holding up the starting rotation as we head to the All-Star Break, but the Yankees will certainly take what they can get.
Gleyber shows signs of life. Much has been written about Torres’ offensive struggles this year, including his general lack of power and low exit velocity, but he made some great contact against Astros pitching. His second inning single measured 107.1 mph, and his fourth inning single clocked 106.3. The Yankees would really love for Gleyber to regain some of his power moving into the second half, and today was certainly encouraging.
The bullpen steps up. After Cortes’ good start, Lucas Luetge, Chad Green, and Jonathan Loaisiga were fantastic in relief. With Aroldis Chapman’s recent ineffectiveness and a spate of injuries, the Yankees have relied heavily on those three pitchers to throw some high leverage innings, and today they did not disappoint. Luetge came on with two outs in the fifth to face Jose Altuve and struck him out on a great breaking ball, going on to throw another scoreless inning before handing the last nine outs to Green and Loaisiga. Green threw two scoreless and struck out two, and Loaisiga was on fire in the ninth inning, dialing his fastball up to 101 mph to close out the game.
- Aaron Judge’s ninth inning double was the 500th hit of his career. He is the second-fastest hitter in Yankees history to get to 500 hits and 100 home runs, behind only Joe DiMaggio. Pretty good company.
- Tonight was the Yankees’ 9th shutout this year, the most in the American League.