Credit to the Astros pitching staff for another shutdown performance over the Yankees
Two of the best hitting teams in baseball engaged in yet another pitcher’s duel, and like most of the games between these two teams this year, the outcome was not decided until the last inning. This time it was the Astros with the dramatic walk-off, taking the final lead on a single by rookie JJ Matijevic.
The Astros started the game against the Bronx Bombers like Ty Cobb’s Detroit Tigers might have. Jose Altuve and Jeremy Pena each hit bunt singles to lead off the game, and Alex Bregman hit in Altuve with an RBI single.
The Astros added a run in the second inning when Corey Lee doubled home Mauricio Dubon.
Take the lead, grow the lead.
Courtesy of Korey Lee. pic.twitter.com/XFv3XxwDKT
— Houston Astros (@astros) July 21, 2022
The Yankees seemed to have Astros starter Cristian Javier on the ropes in the third inning, loading the bases with no outs on a single and two walks. But clean-up hitter Matt Carpenter hit a line drive to Yuli Gurriel, doubling off Aaron Judge at first, and Gleyber Torres flied out to left fielder Aledmys Diaz.
The Yankees did get one run back in the fifth on a DJ LeMahieu solo homer just inside the right-field foul pole.
Javier held the Yankees to one run despite not having his best stuff, going only five innings, allowing four walks, a HBP, and only three K’s. Among the two hits was the homer to Le Mahieu.
The Astros relief continued the Astros’ pitching dominance over the Yankees through the eighth inning, as Phill Maton, Ryne Stanek, and Rafael Montero held the Yankees scoreless.
However, in the ninth inning, Astros reliever Hector Neris ran into tough luck, allowing a one-out single to Aaron Boone. When pinch-hitter Giancarlo Stanton hit a seeming double play ball to Jeremy Pena, Pena bobbled the ball slightly and elected for the easy out at first, sending Boone to second.
Pinch hitter Isiah Kiner-Falefa then hit a weak grounder that barely found the five-hole to score Boone and tie the game.
The Yankees brought in one of their star relievers, Michael King, to hold the Astros and bring the game to extra innings. Alex Bregman opened the inning with a single, and Aledmys Diaz moved him to third with no outs.
But the Astros seemed poised to waste their opportunity. Yuli Gurriel struck out. Yordan Alvarez was brought in to hit for Mauricio Dubon and was intentionally walked. Then Chas McCormick struck out looking totally overmatched when a sac fly could have won the game.
At that point, Dusty Baker decided to go with the left/right hitting matchup, bringing up the struggling rookie lefty, J.J. Matejevic. Matejevic muscled a weak grounder to the left side of the infield against the heavy shift. The Yankees shortstop got to the ball, but had no play as Bregman scored the winning run.
I thought Dusty Baker totally mishandled the batting decisions in the bottom of the ninth.
Sorry Dusty. That’s why you’re going to the Hall of Fame and I’m not.
With an already depleted bullpen, another game tonight, and a series in Seattle against a well-rested team, the Astros really needed this one.
Stay tuned for Game 2 at 5:40. Go deep Luis Garcia.