Imagine you’ve been playing baseball since you were three years old. T-ball, Little League, select ball, high school ball, college ball, Minor league ball, lessons, endless BP, fielding, eating, sleeping, dreaming baseball all your young life. Smashing the ball in AAA and seeming to never get the call.
And then it comes. At last, you have arrived. Your manager puts you in the lineup on Memorial Day, in the Bronx, New York, New York, against the fabled Pinstripes, in the House That Ruth Built, on national television.
In your first at bat, with two men on, in a scoreless game, you see a fastball. You’ve been practicing for this your whole life. Countless swings at that batting tee, countless swings at the pitching machine, countless swings at the coaches’ batting practice. In a thousand baseball games you’ve done this before.
But this is New York. This is the Yankees.
“It’s a high fly ball. It’s reaching for the clouds. Will it have enough distance?... HOME RUN! Home Run, J.D Davis, his first ever in Yankee stadium. The Astros lead 3-0.”
Justin Verlander took care of the rest.
The legend, 2018, continues. Another one run performance, which actually raised his ERA to 1.11. And even on a day when he didn’t have his best swing and miss stuff (he got 5 strikeouts in 6.2 innings and only 9 whiffs in 113 pitches), he managed to keep the mighty Yanks’ bats off balance, inducing 9 flyouts and 4 groundouts, allowing a lone home run to Greg Bird in the seventh. If this is Verlander on an off day I’ll take it every time.
Making amends for last night’s debacle in Cleveland, the Astros bullpen held the Yankees for 2.1 innings of scoreless ball, with Will Harris, Chris Devenski and Ken Giles sharing the duties. Special credit to Devo for a huge strikeout of Aaron Judge in the eighth. And kudos to AJ Hinch for putting Giles back in in the ninth after the big fail last night. When you fall off the horse, get right back on ASAP. Good job Giles.
Additional run support came in the fourth on an Evan Gattis double that scored Yuli Gurriel, who reached on a lazy throwing error by phenom rookie second baseman Gleyber Torres. Jose Altuve provided additional insurance with his own towering home run in the eighth, his fourth, and second in two games.
Game two of this three game series in New York is tomorrow, 6:05 CDT. Charlie Morton (7-0, 2.04 ERA), challenges C. C. Sabathia (2-1, 3.55 ERA)
Box score and videos here.