While tonight’s contest wasn’t quite as emotional as last night — and considerably damper — the end result was the same, with the Yankees taking another game against the Houston Astros, 6-3. Jordan Montgomery pitched fairly if not great, and Giancarlo Stanton dominated the batter’s box. The Yankee DH reached based four times, and drove in four, leading his club and continuing to carry them on his very, very broad back.
While the fans have certainly made their feelings known, there’s been little animosity between players in the first two games. With two outs in the third, DJ LeMahieu was hit with a first pitch fastball, a PA that might have raised some eyebrows. Instead of worrying about beanballs and retribution, though, Stanton made Luis Garcia pay right away:
Montgomery shined in the second, striking out the side in order. In particular, he tormented Yordan Alvarez, showing him three curveballs in four pitches, two of which Alvarez swung over en route to the K. He was able to engineer a couple double plays to work out of trouble in the first and third innings as well. The big problems came in the fourth.
Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman traded singles to start the frame, with Bregman’s coming on a weak fly ball that Aaron Hicks couldn’t really get a bead on. Monty did fail to cover second on that bloop, losing a shot at a potential force-out at the bag. Alvarez then got his revenge for the second-inning strikeout, hitting a hard liner that went off Gumby’s glove to load the bases with nobody out.
After a fielder’s choice, Yuli Gurriel drove a ball to left field that plated one, but the Yankees pulled off a great defensive sequence to nail Carlos Correa at the plate:
The joy was short-lived, however, as Aledmys Díaz followed up with an RBI double of his own, and it was 3-2 Astros.
The Yankees got a few spots of luck in the fifth, as Brett Gardner legged out an infield hit before LeMahieu walked to end the day for Luis Garcia. Ryne Stanek came in to face Stanton with two on and two out, and honestly, probably should have caught Stanton looking with a really nice backdoor slider, the fourth pitch here:
Instead, Stanton got a lucky call and made it count, lacing the next pitch 103 mph down the line for an RBI double that tied the game.
Monty was out after six, with a final line of six innings, eight hits, three earned runs and no walks, but only four strikeouts. It was a tough game on the whole to evaluate, as while he allowed a lot of traffic he did induce double plays. The fourth inning wasn’t completely his fault, but as often seems to be the case for him, he struggles to finish batters, doesn’t fool many — only eight whiffs! —, or he gets nibbly once ahead in the count. Jordan Montgomery is not the reason the Yankees lost this game, but he’s not the reason they won either.
The bullpen held up their end of the bargain after Monty left, with Luis Cessa, Wandy Peralta and Jonathan Loaisiga combining for two shutout innings. Lasanga in particular looked great, striking out Jose Altuve and inducing groundouts from Brantley and Bregman. It is crazy that Loaisiga has become the second-most-trusted reliever in Aaron Boone’s bullpen, but great contact suppression and tons of ground balls will do that.
Riding the high of Loaisiga’s outing, the Yankees finally clawed out a run in the eighth. Gleyber Torres singled to lead off the inning, Clint Frazier added a pinch-hit walk, and the stage was set for Right Handed Hitter Aaron Hicks, who promptly dumped a ball into right field for an RBI single.
It was Hicks’ second hit of the night, one from each side of the plate, and one of the biggest he’s had this year. Gary Sánchez took a pitch off the elbow, and Gardner’s sac fly put the Yankees up two. Stanton added his third hit and fourth RBI of the game, and it was all academic from there.
Aroldis Chapman dominated the ninth, striking out another pair of batters. Today, he enjoyed tormenting hitters by locating his 101-mph fastball down in the zone for strikes, instead of up in the zone. It must be nice to just get to decide how you’re going to strike out a hitter, rather than actually have to put work into it.
The Yankees have won five in a row, and can sweep a potential playoff rival tomorrow. Oh, and the best pitcher in the AL will try and lead them to it. Gerrit Cole gets the ball for tomorrow’s 1:05pm Eastern first pitch.