On a night of opportunity for affirmance, Domingo Germán only highlighted the question marks surrounding the fifth spot in the Yankees rotation with the injury to Luis Severino. Pitching against the Astros on the road in your first start back is far from a picnic, but even for those who dampened expectations, Germán’s first start in 2022 was a letdown. The score was 5-0, Houston, after two innings, and that vaulted the Astros to a 7-5 win, and a commanding doubleheader sweep of the Yankees.
Yordan Alvarez certainly took no time to show that he’s fully back following a minor stint on the injured list. The powerful Astros DH took Germán deep to the opposite field to open up a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first thanks to a pretty dismal pitch.
Germán would only last three innings in the game, allowing five earned runs on six hits (including an Alex Bregman homer). The right-hander was never able to get in a groove pitching through traffic from start to finish, and whether it was always the plan or not, his lack of length in the game opened up the possibility for the next man up to take a crack at this fifth rotation spot.
JP Sears was called up as the 27th man for this doubleheader, and he entered in the bottom of the fourth inning to give the Yankees bullpen a bit of breather with six innings still left in the game. Although he didn’t have a scoreless night, it certainly looked much better in comparison with what Germán did.
Sears kept the Astros off the scoreboard through his first couple of frames, and that even gave the Yankees some time to come back in the game. Gleyber Torres hit a two-run shot into the Crawford Boxes in the top of the third inning making the score a more manageable 5-2.
But in the bottom of the sixth, one mistake from Sears — the only hit he allowed across three innings — did the most damage it could, essentially taking the Yankees out of the ballgame. Pitching to the bottom of the order, Sears plunked the Astros’ first baseman, JJ Matijevic, and proceeded to give up a two-run bomb to the eighth-hole hitter, Chas McCormick, giving the Astros a 7-2 lead.
On the other side of the hill, Luis Garcia proved again the quality and depth of this Houston Astros rotation. Garcia won his second start of the year against the Yankees, allowing only that two-run shot to Torres over five serviceable innings.
Aroldis Chapman got in an inning of work, and although the situation is far from the high-leverage spots of the closer role, he got the job done with a couple of strikeouts against the heart of the Astros order. Hopefully, with enough of these performances, Chapman will build up his confidence and slowly be able to contribute in bigger spots. The same goes for Jonathan Loáisiga, who threw a perfect frame of his own.
With Ryan Pressly on the paternity list, and with the Astros having used virtually all of their other high-leverage relievers, the Yankees had a chance to tee off against the middle and bottom group of the Astros ‘pen. However, the McCormick two-run bomb made sure that didn’t affect the outcome of the game.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Yankees did make things interesting with an Aaron Judge three-run mammoth of a home run that sailed onto the train tracks, 410 feet away.
If nothing else, it forced Dusty Baker to bring in Rafael Montero for the final two outs. After a Torres single to bring the tying run to the plate, Matt Carpenter grounded into a double play that gave the Astros the win.
The Yankees suffered a sweep, not only in this doubleheader but in this “two-part series” that began with the stand-alone game in Houston on June 30th, a 2-1 win by the Astros. The Yankees went 0-3 in Houston in the 2022 regular season and 2-5 as a whole. Houston clearly outplayed them, and now the Yankees can only sit back and wonder what will happen if they end up facing them in October — a problem for another day, but one that will remain on their minds for the remainder of the season.
Next up for the Yankees is a three-game set in Baltimore against the 46-46 Orioles. First pitch for the Friday night opener is 7:05pm ET, with Jameson Taillon facing Tyler Wells.