Sometimes, you just need a little bit of contact to make good things happen. It never hurts to have a little bit of luck, too.
A two-run double with two outs from Robinson Chirinos tied the game in the seventh inning and Carlos Correa reached on a dinky grounder in the eighth to cap a late rally against the vaunted New York Yankees bullpen and give the Houston Astros their fourth straight victory, 4-3, Monday night.
Things looked bleak for the Astros, who trailed by two runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh against primo reliever Zach Britton. Tyler White worked a four-pitch walk to put runners at first and second as Chirinos stepped to the plate. Chirinos scalded his second double in as many innings to tie the game when a chugging White snuck by Gary Sanchez.
Correa found his teammate’s hustle irresistible.
“That was sexy,” Correa on Tyler White scoring from first on Chirinos double.— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) April 9, 2019
His sprint speed was 25.3 feet per second, well below the 27 ft/sec MLB average, and even a little slower than White’s personal average sprint speed for 2018, which was 25.7 ft/sec., says Statcast.
Reliever Adam Ottavino came on for Britton to strike out George Springer and temporarily end the threat.
After a scoreless eighth from the reliable Ryan Pressly, the Astros again went on the offensive against a stellar cog in the Yankees bullpen.
Alex Bregman worked a one-out walk from Ottavino and Michael Brantley followed with a hard single up the middle to beat the shift and put runners at the corners with one out.
Then, the Astros received a lucky bounce that resembled the magic we’ve seen so often the last two seasons.
Correa got jammed by a high, inside fastball that he fought off and meekly pushed toward first base. The ball came off Correa’s bat at 28.9 mph with a two-degree launch angle, took a funky bounce, stayed fair, and allowed Bregman to score the game-winning run.
Closer Roberto Osuna retired the first two batters he faced to bring Aaron Judge—who was already 2-2 with a home run and two walks—to the plate. Judge hit a laser on the first pitch right at Springer, giving the Astros their fourth straight win, all coming at Minute Maid Park. Osuna logged his third save of the season and Pressly collected his first win in 2019.
Verlander and Masahiro Tanaka both got off to good starts Monday night. Each pitcher allowed just one hit through the first two innings.
Verlander permitted a one-out walk to 9-hole hitter Gio Urshela to turn the lineup over in the third inning. Brett Gardner followed with a single and a walk to Judge loaded the bases with one out. An RBI single from Luke Voit gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead as their fourth straight batter reached base. Verlander retired the next two batters to limit the damage, though he required 30+ pitches in an inning for the second straight outing.
That was a 31-pitch inning from Justin Verlander. He's thrown 55 through three innings.— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) April 9, 2019
The Yankees do a good job of making pitchers work. New York finished with the third-most pitches per plate appearance (4.01) in 2018 and were at 4.32 pitches/plate appearance (second-most in MLB) coming into tonight’s game, a stark contrast to the Astros general offensive philosophy. Houston saw the eighth-fewest pitches/plate appearance (3.85 pitches/PA) in 2018 and have the exact same rank (3.82 pitches/PA) so far in 2019.
Verlander’s pitch count was up to 73 with one out in fourth and for the second time in as many starts it looked like he might not make it through the fifth inning. Fortunately, Bregman made a diving stab to get the Astros out of the inning, which was an exceptionally good thing with Jose Altuve leading off the inning.
Altuve smoked Tanaka’s 40th pitch of the night deep over the train tracks to tie the game, 1-1. Statcast registered the damage at 109 mph and 448 feet.
José Altuve’s home run off Masahiro Tanaka traveled 448 feet, his longest distance since August 2016.— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) April 9, 2019
Back-to-back hits by D.J. LeMahieu and Clint Frazier doubled the Yankees lead in the sixth inning. Verlander struck out Urshela to finish six innings with three runs, 7 hits, 6 strikeouts and 111 pitches.
Justin Verlander said it was a tough day control-wise pic.twitter.com/A0t9VKeqhC— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) April 9, 2019
Verlander had trouble locating his fastball in particular, generating just five whiffs on 30 swings against the pitch (props to bilbos for sharing the pitch f/x tool).
Will Harris allowed a hit and walk in the seventh against the heart of the New York order, but didn’t surrender a run. Neither Harris nor Pressly have allowed a run in 2019 and have a WHIP of 0.90 and 0.46, respectively. In fact, Pressly has an impressive scoreless streak that dates back to last season.
Ryan Pressly has not allowed a run in his last 22.1 regular-season innings.— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) April 9, 2019
Judge, who recorded the first hit of his career against Verlander in in the first inning, reached base in his first four plate appearances of the game—including an opposite field homer in the fifth inning that gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead.
The scorching Bregman reached base in his first two plate appearances for the Astros and is on fire.
After going 1-for-15 vs. the Rays to open the season, Alex Bregman has hit safely in each of the Astros’ last six games, going 11-for-20 while reaching base in 16 of 26 plate appearances (.615 OBP).— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) April 8, 2019
Update: Bregman on a 12-for-21 tear. https://t.co/FqQOr6xWn2— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) April 8, 2019
Box score and videos HERE.
The Astros host the Yankees again tomorrow night at 7pm Central, with Jonathan Loaisiga (0-0, 2.25) opposing Gerrit Cole (0-2, 3.00).