I'm shocked, frankly. Why didn't Derek Jeter magic lift the Yankees to a victory on his special day?
Maybe because the Astros played nearly flawless baseball for a second straight night. Dexter Fowler and Matt Dominguez provided just enough offense, as Houston made the most of a paltry total against a tough right-hander in Hiroki Kuroda.
But, the biggest plus for Houston was its bullpen. After Jarred Cosart threw five shutout innings while allowing four hits and no walks with three strikeouts, the bullpen allowed just one run in the next four innings. Jerome Williams had a solid inning in the sixth, debuting with an inning of work with a hit, a walk and two strikeouts. Kevin Chapman struggled again in limited time, giving up Houston's only run of the game.
But, Matt Albers and Josh Fields both responded, as Albers struck out four in 1 1/3 innings of work and Fields struck out one in a perfect ninth for his first save. One of the biggest holes on the 2013 team has been a boon in both of the opening games.
Fowler followed up his homer to lead off the game with a triple in the third. He became the first Astro ever to debut with two or more extra-base hits in each of his first two games, after he hit two doubles on Tuesday. Dominguez added his first home run of the season in the bottom of the seventh to act as an insurance run. Grossman had Houston's other hit, a triple that he scorched to center, getting past Ellsbury and rolling up Tal's Hill.
Add it all up and Houston must be feeling pretty good about the 2014 season. They opened 2013 with a feel-good victory, but followed that up by getting nearly no-hit by Yu Darvish. This year, they follow up with another strong showing and their first-ever series victory over the Yankees. Houston has also doubled its career victory total over the Yankees, moving to 4-13 all-time against the Bronx Bombers.
Who's your player of the game? Matt Albers? Dexter Fowler? Matt Dominguez? Robbie Grossman? Jarred Cosart? You have to be encouraged by Cosart's start. The mechanical adjustments he made with his delivery appear to have paid off, as he threw a career-best 57 percent of his 88 pitches for strikes. The strikeouts still aren't there, but he got nine ground ball outs against just three fly ball outs. More importantly, the erratic starter didn't walk a batter and gave up just four hits.
Good win. Now let's get the sweep on Thursday.