HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 28: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros is caught stealing second base in the fourth inning as Stephen Drew #14 of the New York Yankees applies the tag at Minute Maid Park on June 28, 2015 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
This weekend’s Yankees-Astros series was a tale of teams going in 2 different directions. The Yankees are an older team trying to keep in contention while constantly reshuffling their roster. The Astros are a young team on the rise, with players in place that could be mainstays for a long time. It’s makes sense, then, that the teams in contrasting motion split this 4-game series.
The Yanks were blanked in the first ballgame 4-0. Dallas Keuchel was in total control for the Astros, striking out 12 and walking just 1 in a complete-game, 6-hit shutout. As a marker of his dominance, no Yankees baserunner reached second base until the 9th inning. Chris Young and Carlos Beltran had two hits each, and that was basically it for the paltry Yankees offensive attack.
While the Astros could manage only one more hit than their counterparts, they were able to take advantage. Jose Altuve went 3-4 and Evan Gattis had 2 RBI, and that’s all that Houston needed to overcome the opposing staff. Yankees starter Adam Warren and reliever Chris Capuano were the only arms used, but couldn’t get any offensive support. Warren gave up 3 runs (2 earned) in 5.2 innings, and Capuano gave up 1 run in 2.1 innings.
Negligible offense continued for both squads in the next game, a 3-2 victory for the Yanks. Young, a Texas native, hit the go-ahead three-run homer in the 7th inning off of Will Harris to cap off a 3-hit night. Garrett Jones and Brett Gardner also had 2 hits apiece. Vincent Velasquez pitched well, pitching 6.1 innings and allowing only 5 hits. He was responsible for 2 of the 3 runs given up on that dinger. Houston needed 4 relievers just to survive the final 2.2 innings.
Nathan Eovaldi, also from Texas, threw 6 innings of 2-run ball. Chasen Shreve and Justin Wilson held down the fort until Dellin Betances threw a perfect 9th with 2 strikeouts for his 5th save of the year. Gattis had 2 of his team’s 5 hits, and drove in 1 of their 2 runs. Altive, Carlos Correa, and Hank Conger had the other 3 hits for the Astros.
The slight uptick in offense came in the third game of the 4-game set, a 9-6 Yankees win. Chris Young hit another homer, as did Brian McCann and Chase Headley, and Mark Teixeira had a huge 2-run double. Brett Gardner led the way with 3 hits as his average improved to .300 flat. Houston starter Brett Oberholtzer gave up 6 runs in 1.1 innings and was ejected for throwing at Alex Rodriguez. Pat Neshek took the loss as he gave up Tex’s double to break the 6-6 tie.
Masahiro Tanaka wasn’t impressive either. He gave up 3 homers and 6 runs in 5 innings, walked 2 and allowed 7 hits. Shreve earned the win and Betances closed the door in the 9th as the bullpen allowed just 3 hits in the final 4 innings. Carlos Correa had 3 hits, including one of the homer off of Tanaka, and had 2 RBI as well. Chris Carter had a homer and 2 RBI as well.
Houston was able to salvage a series tie in another low-scoring affair, a 3-1 game. The Yankees offense was shut down by another dominant start, this time by Collin McHugh. He gave up just two hits over 8 innings and struck out 8. Brett Gardner drove in the only run for the pinstripes, and he and Rodriguez had their two hits.
Yankees starter Michael Pineda pitched marvelously, tossing 8 innings of 3-run ball while receiving almost no offensive support. Houston was led by Correa again, as he was the only player in the game with more than one hit. This biggest highlight of the series finale was Correa’s little-league home run that dropped in between Garrett Jones and Brett Gardner and wobbled to the wall.
Overall, this wasn’t a horrible series for the Yankees, as they were able to split with the leaders of the AL West and stay in contention in their own division.
Offensive MVP: Chris Young- 6-14 with 2 homers in a meager offensive show otherwise.
Offensive Slug: Stephen Drew- Not much to say, other than another goose egg for the series.
Pitcher of the Series: Michael Pineda- 8 innings, 2 earned runs, and zero offensive support in a loss.
Pitching Nightmare: Masahiro Tanaka- Gave up 3 dingers and 6 runs in 5 innings. He’s lucky that he pitched in the only game that the bats came to life.