Yankees 7, Astros 6: don’t take it easy on this good night

How about a walk-off to open this hit series?!?! Aaron Hicks saved the game with a game-tying three-run home run in the ninth, setting up Aaron Judge’s single to secure the 7-6 victory. This game always promised fireworks, and boy, did both teams bring it tonight. Many saw this series as the litmus test for the top two teams in the AL, and if this game was any indication of what lies ahead over the next three days… well, all I can say is is “Buckle up, folks.

This game got off to as terrible a start as Jameson Taillon could have imagined. The Yankees right-hander put out the first two batters he faced, diving Jose Altuve and giving up a single to Michael Brantley. Leadoff traffic has a way of leading to big innings, and Alex Bregman proved that maxim to be true, throwing a cement mixer slider left to put the Yankees in a 3-0 hole before anyone had a chance to hit. Credit to Taillon, he struck out the next three batters on six pitches, but it was an inauspicious start to be sure.

One of the things Yankees manager Aaron Boone emphasized when talking about the team’s success was the ability to respond immediately when the opponent scores. DJ LeMahieu and Judge mirrored Altuve and Brantley, reaching a walk and single respectively. After an Anthony Rizzo groundout, Giancarlo Stanton casually returned a 1-0 mid-midfield curveball for his own three-point bomb.

Facing the second bridge on a slow breaker doesn’t seem to be possible, but that’s Big G we’re talking about. It was his 10th home run to give the Yankees a tie or lead, a feat he did with the highest frequency of any slugger in the game.

Taillon settled in the second set, putting the Astros out 1-2-3, including an incredible Joey Gallo catch down the right to seal the frame. Unfortunately, the reprieve would only be temporary.

Apparently, both teams were only allowed to score via the three-point home run. Altuve and Bregman hit a pair of singles, as Taillon’s hard-hit woes continued. Up stepped up baseball’s best hitter, who did exactly what you’d expect if you’ve watched Yordan Alvarez this season. He crushed a 1-0 change in the seats to the right on an absolute missile that never reached more than 42 feet off the ground. It was his fourth homer in the last three games, and his .904 percentage over the last 20 games just keeps going up.

Unlike Taillon, Valdez settled into a groove after an early chance and then retired the next 12 batters he faced, six of them by strikeout. At one point, it almost looked like he was just playing catch, pouring sinkers called-strikes into the glove-side edge of the box for strikes one and two before finishing the batters off with the curveball. The Yankees knew what was coming and there was nothing they could do about it.

I guess the only upside to Taillon’s outing is that he was able to give them 5.2 innings to at least spare the bullpen a heavy workload. He continued to find at-bats, giving up a pair of doubles to Altuve in the fourth and sixth and back-to-back singles to Alvarez and Kyle Tucker in the fifth. However, he found that extra gear when he needed it most and didn’t give up another run after second, eventually keeping the score at 6-3 by the time he started in sixth. Taillon’s last line in the evening: 5.2 IP, 10 hits, 6 runs, no walks and 3 strikeouts on 90 pitches.

Lucas Luetge, Albert Abreu and Miguel Castro combined to pitch 3.1 scoreless innings to keep Yankees hopes alive. There wasn’t much to cheer for Yankees fans in innings two through eight, with the only excitement coming in the form of a 16-pitch walk from Rizzo in the sixth (the longest appearance in the Yankees plate in at least the last 34 years), and a leaping grab off the wall by Tucker on the right to finish the eighth and deny Rizzo an extra base hit. All that being said, if there’s anything last week has shown us, it’s to not count these Yankees until the game final is done.

Stanton and Torres fired back-to-back goals off Ryan Pressly, closer to Houston, to bring Hicks to the plate. In a moment reminiscent of his first three-run home run against Justin Verlander in Game 5 of the 2019 ALCS, Hicks smashed a medium-medium fastball into the right-hand bleachers to complete the comeback and set the stage for the one of the most incredible wins of the Yankees season so far.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa opted to keep the rally going, but was sent off trying to steal second place on a call eventually confirmed by the replay. Rather than let that moment deflate their momentum, the Yankees kept their focus locked, with Jose Trevino fielding a single down the middle to knock Pressly out of the game.

Ryne Stanek came in and took Gallo out, but DJ LeMahieu walked to give Judge a chance to be the hero – as if there was any doubt. After seeing three straight splitters under the box, Judge fired a 3-0 laser pitch down the left line to give the Yankees the 7-6 victory.

Just when it looked like the Yankees had met their game in the AL, they proved they were the rightful owners of a 52-18 record. It’s their 15th straight home win, their longest streak since 1961.

It’s hard to see a game top the drama of this one, but with Luis Severino facing Justin Verlander tomorrow, I think we could be in for another thriller. The first launch is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET, so be sure to join us in the game feed.

The score of the box


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