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 win tonight was I’m sure a cathartic experience for many of the lucky attendees, as the boos and jeers rained down from the stands. And despite a bantha fodder performance by Domingo Germán, a combination of plate discipline, another dominant bullpen performance, and bit of luck pushed the Yankees’ offense to a 7-3 victory.
Germán, took the mound, hoping that his Solo act could spur the Yankees to victory. Unfortunately, he pitched more like Greedo, getting blasted in the opening act, courtesy of a first-inning Alex Bregman solo home run to spot the Astros an early lead. Best not to throw this pitch to a man who once finished runner-up for AL MVP:
Thankfully, the Yankees had an immediate response to this aggression from the rebel scum. DJ LeMahieu led off with a single that ricocheted off Zack Greinke’s foot and into center field. Giancarlo Stanton followed by launching a 2-0 hanging curveball into hyperspace. The two-run homer left his bat at 106.3 mph and landed 367 feet away in the seats in left, giving the home team a 2-1 lead.
After that, it was an Imperial March of Yankees baserunners, as Aaron Judge, Gio Urshela, and Gleyber Torres all reached base to load ‘em up. Unfortunately, the Yankees were unable to deliver the decisive blow, as Clint Frazier grounded into a double play to push only a single additional run across.
Yankees fans proved that the only people they will boo louder than a cheating opponent is one of their own players, as they really let a scuffling Aaron Hicks hear it when he grounded 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 the Sarlacc than his current slump, but there may be a New Hope on the the horizon — something I will have more on later this week.
Germán righted the ship in the second — in terms of his own performance — as he retired the side in order, including strikeouts of Yuli Gurriel and Kyle Tucker. LeMahieu’s walk was the only action in the half, as it appeared Greinke got his targeting computer back up and running.
As quickly as Germán regained his command in the second, he immediately lost it again in the third, serving up a massive solo shot that Michael Brantley lifted into the executive level suites in right. Yordan Alvarez then singled up the middle, and Gurriel missed a two-run home run to left by about two inches, as the ball bounced off the top of the padding. Alvarez scored on the play, and despite Germán escaping the inning tied 3-3, I had a bad feeling about this — should the Yankees continue to trot him out there for any more work, of course.
The location of Germán’s pitches was generally grievous throughout his outing — he frequently missed over the heart of the plate and was punished accordingly. Aside from that clean second inning, he looked worse than Luke after escaping the trash compactor.
I tried not to get prematurely excited by his previous two starts against Cleveland and the Orioles. It’s one thing to limit runs against two of the worst offenses in the league; it’s another entirely to have success while consistently missing spots against playoff-caliber lineups. His final line on the night: five innings, four hits, three runs (including the pair of long balls), one walk, six strikeouts, and 83 pitches.
Greinke was surprisingly pulled after 4 innings and only 85 pitches, as it appeared that he had settled down after that shaky first. Brandon Bielak came on in relief, and surrendered his first hit in the bottom of the fifth: an ion-beam double, 117.4 mph off Stanton’s bat.
Lucas Luetge came in for the sixth, and after a one-out single by Bregman, induced a ground ball that led to one of the prettiest defensive plays you’ll see this year. Torres snagged it with a sliding play up the middle and flipped to Urshela at second, who pirouetted and fired a bullet to first to complete the double play.
The Yankees loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth via a Torres walk, Hicks single, and Rougned Odor walk, bringing LeMahieu to the plate with two outs. On an 0-2 pitch, he nubbed an infield single down the third-base line.
Bregman tried to gun him out at first, but the throw was well wide of Gurriel, allowing Higashioka and Odor to score. There was a nasty collision at the plate, as Odor’s knee collided with Martín Maldonado’s face, leaving both players in visible pain at home plate.
Odor had to be helped off the field while Maldonado left under his own power. Thankfully, Odor could be seen standing in the dugout after, and we hope it is nothing serious.* A scary ending to the play, but as it stood, the Yankees led 6-3.
*The 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 play at the plate allowed LeMahieu to advance to second, and he was singled home by Stanton on Big G’s third hit of the night. Judge struck out to end the inning, but not without the Yankees securing a 7-3 lead. Tyler Wade replaced Odor at second while Jason Castro replaced Maldonado behind the dish for Houston.
Stanton collected his fourth hit of the night in the eighth, a 109.9-mph line drive blistered to left-center. The Yankees threatened to go full-on star destroyer against the Astros, as Judge and Gio singled and walked to load the bases for Torres. It would have been a perfect time for him to eliminate the goose egg in the home run column, but alas, a ground ball ended the inning and kept the score at 7-3 heading to the ninth.
Chad Green got the final three outs of the game, as the Yankees moved above .500 for the first time since April 6th. There was a lot to like about the offensive performance this game (nine walks drawn), and the Yankees bullpen did its normal bang-up job. It was also encouraging to see them get a win over a potential playoff opponent.
Tomorrow, Jordan Montgomery is set to face off against Luis Garcia. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET so join us in the game thread. For now, it’s good night, and may the force be with you!