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Yankees implode early, come back too late, lose 8-6 to Astros

Astros pull off their first-ever sweep of the New York Yankees.

New York Yankees v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Yankees continued to embarrass themselves deep in the heart of Texas, dropping an 8-6 contest to the Astros to complete a pitiful sweep. The pitching was bad, the team made some defensive mistakes, and the hitting was mostly nonexistent until garbage time.

After two disappointing losses, Brett Gardner spoke out about the Yankees needing to be better. Well, Gardner did his best to set the tone early himself by turning on a 2-0 fastball, depositing it deep into the right field seats for a leadoff homer. It was just the start the Yankees needed after a couple of lackluster efforts.

Unfortunately, the 1-0 lead wouldn’t last long. Jose Altuve smacked a 2-0 fastball just over the yellow line in the left field stands for a solo home run. After Carlos Correa walked, Yuli Gurriel tripled him home on a ball that probably should not have gotten past Brett Gardner. This series was marred by Yankees mistakes, and the first inning of this game was no different. It’s never a good thing to be down heading into the second inning after a leadoff home run.

While Collin McHugh settled in after the rough start, James Paxton continued to struggle. He allowed a Michael Brantley single, and then Carlos Correa doubled him home to make it 3-1, Houston. While Paxton did not have good command tonight, he minimized the damage fairly well – it could have easily been much worse than 3-1 Astros after three innings.

The Yankees finally tried to pick up Paxton a little bit in the top of the fourth after a leadoff Gleyber Torres double and a Greg Bird single. Torres scored on DJ LeMahieu’s sacrifice fly, cutting the deficit to just one run. Paxton followed suit by tossing a scoreless inning, and somehow it was only a 3-2 ballgame after four innings despite feeling much worse.

Alas, the good feelings wouldn’t last long. After the Yankees went down 1-2-3, Aaron Boone left James Paxton out for the fifth inning against the heart of the Astros’ order, and Jose Altuve didn’t waste any time. He destroyed a first-pitch fastball deep into the left field stands, making it 4-2 Astros.

Paxton had labored through four innings. He had over 80 pitches. He had walked three batters. The Yankees were finally back in the game. The Astros’ best hitters were coming up. It would have been an ideal time to go to the bullpen, but Boone wanted Paxton to make it through the heart of the order.

But wait, the Yankees still had three more outs to get in the inning! Boone called on Tommy Kahnle out of the bullpen, and he promptly surrendered a two-run bomb to Carlos Correa, making it 6-2 Houston. Kahnle allowed three more hits and one more run before giving way to Joe Harvey, who made his MLB debut down 7-2. At least he struck out his first MLB batter, George Springer, and looked pretty solid over two-plus innings of relief.

While it seemed unlikely at the time, Harvey’s solid performance actually went a long way in helping the Yankees crawl back. When Luke Voit slugged a two-run home run in the eighth inning to make it 7-4, it made the game look somewhat close, at least.

And then DJ LeMahieu notched his third hit of the day, an RBI double to make it a 7-5 ballgame. One Clint Frazier sac fly later, it was 7-6 and the tying run was on third base with one out. The Yankees actually had some hope!

But of course, things just weren’t meant to be. Austin Romine lined out, and then pinch hitter Gary Sanchez struck out, stranding the tying run at third base. It would come back to bite the Yankees in the next inning, when Zack Britton gave up a run to make it 8-6. The Yankees brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but couldn’t put the pieces together, ending a frustrating game.

The Yankees are just 10-14 against the Astros over the last three seasons, and it’s because of games like this. Even though the Yankees are banged up and made several mistakes, they had a prime chance to tie the game, and couldn’t do it. Until they figure out how to beat Houston or Boston, they’re still a step below them.

The Yankees are off Thursday, but they will look to get back on track when they return home for a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox. J.A. Happ and Lucas Giolito are the projected starters for Friday night’s tussle. There’s nowhere to go but up from here.