Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery was forced to leave the game after one inning of work due to elbow tightness. Justin Verlander struck out 14 Yankees through eight scoreless inning. Giancarlo Stanton went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Oh, and the Yankees still beat the Astros by a score of 4-0.
Domingo German and the New York bullpen kept the Astros in check all the while the offense patiently waited for Verlander to exit. They eventually used a three-run homer by Gary Sanchez in the ninth to claim a most unexpected victory in Houston.
The win is one of the biggest of the young season, but it came at a cost. The starting staff was flooded with uncertainty when CC Sabathia went on the disabled list and Sonny Gray hit a wall. After r a full successful turn of the rotation, capped off by Gray’s best start of the season against the Astros’ potent lineup, things seemed to be settling down.
That calmness, however, proved short-lived. After throwing just seven pitches in the first inning, Montgomery was seen shaking is arm in apparent discomfort. Obviously a red flag, Aaron Boone shut Montgomery down and turned to German for extended relief.
Jordan Montgomery left tonight's game with left elbow tightness. He will return to NYC tomorrow & will see Dr. Chris Ahmad.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) May 2, 2018
On the other side, Verlander continued the dominance he has displayed since arriving in Houston. Through his first four innings of work, Verlander struck out eight Yankees. That included Stanton twice, who can’t seem to break through just yet.
Verlander had Yankee hitters so off-balanced that Brett Gardner elected to try and drop down a bunt on a 3-2 count in the third inning. He fouled it off to give Verlander the unorthodox strikeout. Two innings later, Verlander struck out Gardner the old-fashioned way for his 10th strikeout of the evening.
The last time the Yankees had back-to-back 10+ strikeout starts against them was June 7-8, 2003. (Kerry Wood and Mark Prior - CHC)— Seth Rothman (@SethDRothman) May 2, 2018
While Verlander mowed down the Yankees, German opened eyes by matching zeroes and breezing through the Astros’ lineup. He ran into some minor trouble in the fourth when Houston put runners on first and second with nobody out, but German settled down and got Alex Bregman to fly out. For his encore he induced a 1-6-3 double play off the bat of Marwin Gonzalez to retire the side.
In an immediate relief role, German was everything the Yankees could have asked for, tossing four scoreless innings with four strikeouts to get the game to the bullpen in the sixth. If Montgomery is out for any significant length of time, German put together one heck of an audition to take over the fifth spot in the rotation.
In other positive news, Dellin Betances was effective for the sixth-straight appearance, tossing a scoreless seventh to keep the game tied and instill further hope that the good version of Betances may have officially returned.
After David Robertson took care of business in the eighth, the Yankee bats finally went to work. With Verlander out, Aaron Judge laced a single and Didi Gregorius followed with a hustle double to put runners on second and third. Stanton followed with (another) strikeout, but the Kraken was then unleashed. Sanchez unloaded on a mammoth home run to center field off a very frustrated Ken Giles. The Astros closer actually punched himself in the face for his mistake. The Yankees took 3-0 lead in a game they seemingly had no business winning. Aaron Hicks would make it 4-0 after scoring on a wild pitch from Will Harris.
Aroldis Chapman took the ball in the ninth and struck out the side to complete the Yankees’ first shutout win of the season.
If you wish to read the Astros’ game recap, see below:
Uh, did Ken Giles just punch himself in the face? pic.twitter.com/Y8kbDIDVtl— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) May 2, 2018