The Yankees were held hitless for 16⅓ innings going back to a Friday night loss to the Houston Astros until Giancarlo Stanton hit a one-out home run in the seventh inning in the Bronx Sunday afternoon. The Astros combined no-hitter Saturday afternoon was historic.
Then again, these are the Yankees and they manage to always do historic things in the Bronx with their at bats. You can’t keep the best team in baseball down for the count before they get off the mat and go for the knockout.
This was a four-game series with the Astros at Yankee Stadiumthat provided a preview of a potential October ALCS meeting between the two best teams in the American League. Just ask manager Aaron Boone who said his team never goes down without the last punch.
Aaron Judge, who hit the dramatic 10th inning three-run homer, his second in four days, will tell you the Yankees are never out of a game. It was the Yankees’ Major League leading 10th walk-off win of the season. The Astros, after this 6-3 loss were not devastated.
They had the Yankees, and it appeared they were taking three of four in the Bronx, but they will meet again in Houston for a game Thursday evening and for a doubleheader next month right out of the All-Star break.
“Easily could have won three out of four all or four,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker. “We played them tough.”
But tough was not enough. The two teams are evenly matched, while some say the Astros have the better bullpen.
Sunday, this Yankees bullpen was better. The historic hitless drought was over, and Michael King, the Yankees unheralded stopper made sure to strand the bases loaded in the 10th. The Yankees went to work as they always do, whether it be the Western Division leading Astros or all the others that have propelled them to the best record in baseball by a wide margin.
Judge and Stanton are healthy. When they hit a home run in the same game the Yankees are 24-1, 8-0 this season.
“We got the best team on the planet,” Judge said. No debate about being the best team, however, the Yankees and Astros showed they are evenly matched and a split this first time around leaves plenty of anticipation for round two in Houston.
After four thrilling ball games in the Bronx, dominated by the Astros starters’ ability to shut down the team with one of the best offenses in baseball, you would rather see the series continue Monday. But the Astros move on and face another challenge across town the next few days against the Mets who have the best record in the National League.
“These two teams, we’re going to be seeing each other a lot down the road,” Judge said. “We’ve seen each other a lot in years past in the postseason. You look forward to these weekends, playing good teams and seeing where you stack up.”
Jose Altuve continued to hear the Bronx cheer. Yankees fans have no short memories of the scandal ridden Astros and Altuve. They don’t or will never forget the Astros sending the Yankees home and denying them a first World Series since 2009.
Though the names have changed, Altuve is still with Houston. He continues to be a premiere leadoff hitter and sent a Nestor Cortes first pitch into the left-field seats for a quick 1-0 lead.
“They really get into the game,” Altuve said about the boos that continued with each at bat. “That’s the kind of people they are. There were good games for both teams. There was a lot of energy, a lot of intensity from the first game to the last run. We did everything we could. I’m happy with the way we played.”
Remember this, though, the Yankees have not won anything yet as the season approaches the halfway mark. Until they rid the Astros of reaching another World Series, these Yankees and their fans will not be content.
“You could tell they were coming at us with everything they had,” said DJ LeMahieu. “We’ve had a good start, but at the same time, we haven’t done anything yet either. We’ll be watching them from afar, and there’s some other good teams too.”
But no better than these two teams that provided a preview of postseason baseball that is certain to come in October.
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