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Yankees 1, Astros 0: Eovaldi's strong start sets up walk-off win

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The first game of the series between the Yankees and Astros proved to be a pitching duel as Nathan Eovaldi and Scott Feldman traded zeroes for eight innings. Eovaldi managed to keep the Astros to just four hits and three walks while also striking out seven batters. That should have set him up for an easy win, unfortunately Feldman managed to match the Yankees right-hander with six-hit, six-k performance of his own. Things went scoreless until the very end.

Despite the pitchers dominating the show all night, there were at least some offensive performances that challenged the them. In the third inning, Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew each collected a hit, with Drew finally reaching a .200 batting average for the moment. Jacoby Ellsbury then grounded into a force out to move Didi to third, but nothing came of it.

Houston, meanwhile, challenged in the fifth when Luis Valbuena worked a walk and Drew, fresh off his .200 batting average, couldn't come up with a ground ball. Instead of a double play, the Yankees ended up in a jam until the play at first was overruled to give them two outs. From there, Jose Altuve worked a walk, but Eovaldi managed to get a ground ball to end the threat. They caused a stir again in the sixth when Carlos Correa hit a single and Colby Rasmus worked a walk. Carlos Gomez bunted them over to second and third, but the threat was neutralized from there.

In the seventh, the Yankees made a play for the lead when Brian McCann singled and Carlos Beltran hit the ball off the wall–though he was limited to a single. Chase Headley then flew out to center field and McCann tagged, but Gomez was able to gun him out at the plate to keep the game scoreless. Andrew Miller came in to pitch the ninth, and after allowing a leadoff hit, managed to strike out Valbuena while McCann threw out the runner at second. Miller then struck out Chris Carter to end the frame.

In the ninth, the Yankees put the pressure on when Brett Gardner walked to lead off the inning. While Alex Rodriguez was batting a wild pitch allowed Gardner to move to move to second and from there the Astros decided to walk A-Rod to set up the double play. It was sound logic, but where they went wrong was expecting the same pitcher–Oliver Perez–to walk someone and then expect him to throw strikes to the next batter. If you've paid attention over the last few year, you would probably be aware that this strategy never ever ever works. Pitchers that are asked to intentionally walk a batter and then stay in the game to face the next guy rarely ever show the same control they had before the walk and managers continue to make the same move and the same mistake year after year. After Perez walked three batters, he was pulled in favor of Chad Qualls, who then allowed a fly ball to Carlos Beltran, which allowed Gardner to score the winning run for the walk-off.

A tip of the hat is deserved to Brian McCann, who collected three hits and threw a runner out. A semi-congratulations is in order to Stephen Drew after he briefly reached the .200 threshold that has eluded him for most of the season. Unfortunately, he fell back down below the Mendoza line by the end of the night. This was a key win for the Yankees as it moves them into a tie with the Blue Jays for first place, since they had the night off. The Yankees will send out Ivan Nova against Dallas Keuchel, so it's a good thing they won tonight's game just in case.