After scoring a paltry three runs in four ALCS losses to the Astros in Minute Maid Park last October, New York shut out Houston tonight for the second straight game. Giancarlo Stanton became the first Yankee ever to homer off Dallas Keuchel, taking the lefty deep twice to back Luis Severino’s dominant performance. The Bombers defeated the Astros 4-0.
Severino completely shut down Houston’s offense, allowing only five hits and one walk while striking out 10. The tough right-hander did a great job stranding all six Astros runners, with only two advancing as far as second base.
Houston’s best scoring chance occurred in the seventh, with the first two batters reaching on singles. Gleyber Torres then made an outstanding play, leaping and diving toward left field to snare an Alex Bregman line drive for the first out. Severino struck out Marwin Gonzalez swinging on a nasty pitch, and pinch-hitter Brian McCann grounded out to first to end the threat.
First baseman Tyler Austin ranged far to his right and dove to make the grab. He then fired a strike to Severino covering the bag to nab the slow-footed McCann. Unfortunately, Austin tweaked something on the play, as Neil Walker pinch-hit for him in the top of the eighth.
During the game, YES showed a graphic that Sevy has a higher average velocity on his fastball this year than any other starter in baseball. The Yankees ace certainly had everything working for him against the Astros tonight. He needed only 110 pitches to dispatch the defending World Series champs and log his first career complete game shutout. Severino is now 5-1 on the year, becoming the second five-game winner in the AL, behind reigning Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber.
The Yankees got on the board immediately in the top of the first inning. Didi Gregorius punched a two-out single to left, and Stanton followed with an opposite-field home run to give the Yankees a quick 2-0 lead.
New York squandered a potential scoring opportunity against Keuchel in the third. Gleyber Torres led off with a single. Aaron Hicks tried to bunt him over, but popped out instead. Aaron Judge then launched a rocket that sent Astros right-fielder Josh Reddick back to the wall. Reddick caught it on the run, then wheeled and fired a missile to first base. Torres, running on the play, was easily doubled up to end the inning.
The late, great Oscar Gamble once quipped: “I’m in scoring position when I step into the batter’s box.” That was Stanton tonight. The reigning NL MVP crushed his second homer of the game with two outs in the fourth inning. The solo shot sailed over the high scoreboard wall in left field to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead.
The Bombers added another run in the eighth to complete the scoring. Hicks led off with a double, but was unable to advance when Judge grounded out to short. The switch-hitter made up for it by swiping third with Didi batting. After Gregorius struck out, Stanton laced a double down the right-field line to score Hicks and put the Yankees up 4-0. Keuchel was pulled after walking Gary Sanchez, but reliever Collin McHugh retired Walker on a grounder to end the frame.
Stanton finished 3-for-4 on the night, driving in all four Yankee runs. Severino worked around a two-out double in the ninth to finish his gem. Houston is now 1-for-18 with runners in scoring position in this series.
Do you believe in miracles? The Yankees have an opportunity to take three-of-four from the defending champs in Minute Maid Park tomorrow. Masahiro Tanaka (4-2, 4.37 ERA) faces off against Lance McCullers (4-1, 3.71 ERA). Tanaka seeks to build on his brilliant two-hit, one-run performance in his start last Saturday against the Angels in Anaheim. Join us. First pitch is set for 2:10 PM EDT.