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Yankees 5, Astros 4: The kids are alright

Each rookie played a role in the Yankees’ nail-biter victory over the Astros, their second-straight series win.

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Those meddling kids! The youth movement is paying dividends, with the Yankees taking the first two games of this series after fully committing to playing the rookies. Luis Severino was far from his sharpest, but contributions from up and down the lineup — including a 3-for-4 day from Oswald Peraza after he entered today 0-for-18 — as well as a shutdown 3.2-inning scoreless relief outing from Jhony Brito locked up a Yankees victory, 5-4.

The Yankees had six players 24 years old or younger in the lineup for the first time since 1969 and almost all of them had a hand in opening the scoring in the second. Giancarlo Stanton led off with a single and Anthony Volpe and Everson Pereira both walked to load the bases. Peraza smacked one up the middle to plate the first run, with each runner going station to station, and another came home on an Oswaldo Cabrera free pass. DJ LeMahieu looked to have driven in a third on a soft grounder, but replay determined that the throw beat him at first for the inning-ending double play.

One of the major plot lines of Severino’s season has been his first-inning struggles. He’d given up 23 runs in 16 first innings entering today, but with a scoreless first tonight, he now has three straight outings without giving up a run in the opening frame. All his pitches had a little extra zip out of the gate as he was able to reach back for 99 on the fastball without too much effort.

Severino was not so lucky in the second. In a pretty brutal sequence of events, he coughed up the Yankees’ lead. José Abreu fouled off seven pitches in a 13-pitch at-bat that ended in a walk, and on an 0-2 pitch to the following batter Michael Brantley, Sevy missed his spot with a cutter and the Astros left fielder cut it off for a two-run homer (his first of 2023 after missing most of it due to injury). Chas McCormick later won a 12-pitch AB with a single as Severino would need 40 pitches to escape the frame. Things didn’t get any better in the fourth, as despite pitching with the lead again, Sevy gave it right back up on a single to Brantley followed by a Yainer Diaz homer to left to put the Astros back on top, 4-3.

After starting off in such promising fashion, this outing ended up resembling many of Severino’s rockier starts. Early on it seemed like he brought some of his best stuff of the season to the park. But as David Cone noted on the broadcast, his command in two-strike counts was poor, leading to 41 foul balls out of his 104 total pitches. He ended the day with four innings pitched, giving up four runs on six hits and a walk with three strikeouts.

Luckily, his offense picked him up each time the Astros scored. Immediately after they tied it, Aaron Judge led off the third with a booming home run to center, his 31st of the year.

Then after falling behind again through four, Judge led off the fifth with a walk, followed by a Mauricio Dubón error on a Jasson Domínguez grounder and an Anthony Volpe walk to again load the bases. Austin Wells plated Judge with a sac fly to center to re-level the scores at four apiece before an Everson Pereira single to center put the Yankees back in the lead, 5-4.

Jhony Brito came in at the start of the fifth and rewarded the Yankees with another stellar relief outing after going 3.1 scoreless last time out vs. the Tigers. His curveball and changeup seemed to have extra bite helping him induce some timely double plays in the sixth and seventh, and in general he filled up the zone. His 3.2 scoreless innings spared the Yankees bullpen after it could have gone sideways with Severino only going four, and more importantly he helped keep his team’s slim lead intact.

Wandy Peralta converted the final out of the eighth allowing Clay Holmes to lock down the save in the ninth. It’s the first time the Yankees have recorded back-to-back series victories since the last week of June.

The Yankees will go for their first sweep since the third week of July with Michael King on the mound to take on Cristian Javier. It would also be their first sweep of the Astros since Houston’s rebuilding days at the very end of 2013. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 pm ET so be sure to join us in the game thread!

Box Score