HOUSTON (AP) — Rookie J.J. Matijevic’s pinch-hit RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning lifted the Houston Astros to a 3-2 win over the New York Yankees on Thursday in the opener of a day-night doubleheader between the American League’s top teams.
Alex Bregman led off the Houston ninth with a single against Michael King (6-3). Bregman advanced to third on Aledmys Díaz’s double. After Yuli Gurriel struck out, pinch-hitter Yordan Alvarez was walked intentionally to load the bases.
King looked as if he might be able to escape the jam after he struck out Chas McCormick, but Matijevic drove in Bregman with an infield single to shortstop.
“The bullpen did a great job and boy, that was an exciting win for us and the fans and for J.J.,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I was happy for J.J.”
Baker was impressed by the work of Matijevic and fellow rookie Korey Lee, who drove in a run in the second.
“These rookies aren’t afraid,” Baker said. “They can grow up right before your eyes in that situation. … They’re understanding what this rivalry is all about and the magnitude of the ballgames.”
The doubleheader between the major league-leading Yankees and the Astros is to help make up a series that was postponed because of the lockout. Houston won the first game of the series on June 30.
“It’s definitely news to watch us play each other,” New York’s Giancarlo Stanton said. “But at the end of the day, we’ve got to stay ahead of them for home-field (advantage) and every game is important. But there’s obviously a bit more spice on these games.”
Baker echoed the sentiments of Stanton as it relates to his team.
“It’s just July, but it’s mid-July and these things count,” Baker said. “We’re trying to chase a team.”