HOUSTON — The Houston Astros opened the second half of the season by beating the New York Yankees in a doubleheader on Thursday to move closer to the team with the best records in baseball overall.
Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman both hit homers and combined for five RBI as the Astros wrapped up the sweep with a 7-5 Game 2 win.
Houston won the season series against New York 5-2, with the Yankees consistently taking the only lead by walk-offs. They finished the season with a .151 team batting average against the Astros, their lowest single-season BA against a single opponent ever, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone seemed troubled by an issue that equated this season’s results against the Astros with their struggles against them in the playoffs last year.
“I understand it’s a big story,” he said. “I understand the season we are in. It won’t matter unless it’s October. If we return here in October we will show up. We will expect to win. We think we’re really good. You are really good. Do not exaggerate.”
The Yankees are 64-30. Houston is 61-32.
“You want to get off to a good start and I think everyone came out ready to play,” said Bregman. “That’s what we expect every night from this ball club … and hopefully we can continue that in the second half.”
Rookie JJ Matijevic’s RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning propelled the Astros to a 3-2 win in the opener of the day-night doubleheader.
“It’s great for us to start 2-0 and extend our lead back to double digits,” Houston coach Dusty Baker said of his team’s lead over the Mariners in the AL West.
Aaron Judge hit his MLB-leading 34th homer on a three-run shot by Brandon Bielak down the train tracks at left field to cut the lead to 7-5 with a ninth 2-out.
Rafael Montero, who put up an inning in the first game, took over and was greeted with a single by Gleyber Torres. But Matt Carpenter started with a double to end the game and give Montero his seventh save.
Alvarez, returning from the injured list Thursday, hit his 27th homer with two outs in first at the left field pitches to give Houston an early lead. The Astros went back-to-back as Bregman tied Domingo Germán (0-1) for a 2-0 four places later.
“The guy has never swung a club against the live pitch and hits it right on his first swing, he’s pretty awesome,” Baker said. “And Bregman is heating up.”
There were runners in second and third with two outs in the second when Alvarez doubled off the left-center wall to score two more and extend the lead to 4-0. Bregman hit left field to send Alvarez home and make it 5-0.
The judge went with an out in the third before the Yankees cut the lead to three on a home run by Torres.
The doubleheader from the All-Star break should help catch up on a series that was postponed due to the lockout. Houston won the first game of the series on June 30th.
“It’s definitely new to watch us play,” said Giancarlo Stanton from New York. “But at the end of the day we have to stay ahead of them at home (advantage).”
Germán allowed six hits and five runs in three innings on his season debut after missing the first half of the season with a shoulder injury.
Houston starter Luis Garcia (8-5) delivered three hits and two carries in five innings for his fifth straight win after losing his previous four decisions.
In Game 1, Bregman led Houston’s ninth seed with a single against Michael King (6-3). Bregman moved up to third with the double from Aledmys Díaz. After Yuli Gurriel slammed, pinch-hitter Alvarez was deliberately walked to load the bases.
King looked like he could break the jam after beating McCormick, but Matijevic drove Bregman to shortstop with an infield single.
“The bullpen did a great job and boy was that an exciting win for us and the fans and for JJ,” Baker said. “I was happy for JJ”
The Astros went into ninth place with a 2-1 lead. But Aaron Hicks played Héctor Neris (3-3) and scored on Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s two-out single, a grounder that narrowly rolled past shortstop Jeremy Peña to equalize.
DJ LeMahieu hit the fifth homer, but the Yankees were only 1 for 8 with runners in goal position.
Jordan Montgomery hit a season high with eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. He allowed seven hits and walked one.
Cristian Javier posted a season high by giving up four walks while allowing one run and two hits in five innings. It was Javier’s first start against the Yankees since he pitched seven innings in a combined no-hitter on June 25 in New York. Neris and Ryan Pressly finished the historic gem.
It was only the third doubleheader for the domed Minute Maid Park, which opened in 2000.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34278699/sweep-gives-astros-season-series-vs-yankees-aaron-boone-says-not-going-matter-october Sweep gives Astros season series vs. Yankees, but Aaron Boone says ‘it’s not going to matter unless’ it’s October