Things are probably pretty bleak when Tyler White has been your best hitter for more than a few games. White, who had five doubles and eight walks in the past week entering tonight, collected another two-bagger and scored a run, but that was all Houston could muster in a 4-1 loss—the Astros sixth straight—to the New York Yankees.
Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres both hit two-run homers for the Yankees to send the Astros to their longest losing streak in nearly four years.
The Astros lost to the Yankees, 4-1. They are 48-29.— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) June 22, 2019
This is Houston's first six-game losing streak since July 7-12, 2015.
Early on, it looked as though James Paxton might cruise through the Astros’ lineup, like we’ve seen many times before. Paxton needed only eight pitches to get through the first inning, even though he fell behind Michael Brantley 3-1.
Brad Peacock had a more inauspicious start than Paxton. After retiring Aaron Judge, who was hitting leadoff for the first time in his career, Peacock allowed a double to Sanchez and single to Didi Gregorius to put runners at the corners with one away. Giancarlo Stanton, who also came off the injured list this week for the Yankees and was playing in just his sixth game of the season, strode to the plate.
Peacock coaxed a groundball from the Yankees’ behemoth designated hitter that resulted in a fantastic double play completed by an overturned Jose Altuve, who fired an accurate throw to first to end the inning despite being flipped on a clean slide by Gregorius.
Both pitchers put up a scoreless second inning and it looked like the Astros would score the game’s first run after Myles Straw began the third with a double. Paxton struck out Alex Bregman and retired Brantley on a weak grounder before issuing a walk to Altuve on four pitches. Paxton ended the threat with another groundball and the Astros stranded two runners in consecutive innings.
Peacock sandwiched strikeouts around a Cameron Maybin single before Sanchez deposited his 23rd home run of the season 481 feet deep into the leftfield bleachers to give New York a 2-0 lead in the third.
The blast from Sanchez tied him with newly-acquired teammate Edwin Encarnacion for the American League lead in home runs with 23 and was his third in as many games.
Houston responded with a run in the top of the fourth. After two quick outs, White hit a double and Jake Marisnick fought off a tough pitch for a double the other way to score the Astros first (and only) run.
White was hitting .324 (12-for-37) over his last 12 games entering play and collected another hit and two walks in his tenth consecutive start at first base.
Peacock settled in after the homer by Sanchez, retiring 10 straight with seven strikeouts during that stretch. In his first career start against the Yankees, Peacock went six innings and punched out 11 for his second double-digit strikeout performance this season. He crossed the century mark in pitches for the first time this year and ended his night with a strikeout looking of Stanton.
Although Peacock (6-5, 3.62) flirted with danger in the first inning, his slider looked nasty from the outset. Here’s a glimpse of the filth Peacock had working Friday night, courtesy of his third-inning strikeout of Gio Urshela.
Brad Peacock, 80mph Frisbee Slider. pic.twitter.com/uzF50LorLA— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 22, 2019
That weapon helped him overcome a tight strike zone against a loaded Yankees’ lineup.
A leadoff double for Yuli Gurriel in the sixth inning ended Paxton’s night at an even 100 pitches—after an eight-pitch first inning, at that. But a lack of execution creeped up again for the Astros when Robinson Chirinos took a third strike looking—the third strikeout of the night for the All-Star hopeful--from reliever Adam Ottavino and failed to advance Gurriel with no outs.
White followed with his fifth walk in five games of the current road trip. Josh Reddick lined out as a pinch-hitter for Marisnick and Straw didn’t swing once in six pitches to strand two more Astros.
In the seventh, Gleyber Torres connected for a two-run homer—his third consecutive game with a home run--off Hector Rondon to provide the Yankees a 4-1 lead.
The Astros were able to threaten twice more, with two baserunners in both the eighth and ninth innings and phenom Yordan Alvarez at the plate representing the tying run. But Aroldis Chapman struck out the rookie looking to end the game, though to be fair it was the first heater the Yankees’ closer threw in the strike zone in his entire 24-pitch outing and was clocked at 101 MPH. The save was Chapman’s 21st save of the year. He has 20+ saves in eight straight seasons.
Paxton (5-3, 3.75) threw five innings and allowed one run on five hits. He struck out seven while issuing three walks.
In all, the Astros worked New York pitching for seven walks in the game but were let down by the top of the order. In particular, Bregman and Brantley went a combined 0-for-10. Bregman is hitting just .172 (5-for-29) and has eight strikeouts in eight games hitting leadoff this season, though he has taken seven walks and hit three homers when batting atop the order. Brantley struck out twice in Friday’s game, the first time he’s done that since May 2. As a team, the Astros went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 men.
The Yankees have homered in 24 consecutive games, the fourth-longest streak in American League history, and are on a seven-game winning streak (*vomit*). The Astros haven’t scored first in a week, spanning their entire six-game losing streak. The Astros have had only one lead since the end of Saturday’s 7-2 triumph over the Toronto Blue Jays and their lead in the AL West could be trimmed to seven games with an Oakland win later Friday night. Houston has fallen to 11th in runs scored (391) as injuries start to take their toll.
On the bright side, Chapman and Zach Britton both threw 23+ pitches for the Yankees in Friday’s game and fellow bullpen-mate Ottavino tossed 19 of his own. Hopefully that leads to a beleaguered Yankees’ bullpen for the remainder of the series.
Even better, Altuve reached base in four consecutive plate appearances, including a bunt single in the top of the ninth. He looked fully healthy legging out bunt attempts in the first and ninth innings, and I thought the first one could have been challenged.
Aaron Judge made his return to the Yankees lineup after a 54-game absence with an oblique injury and went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
Chris Devenski pitched a flawless eighth for Houston.
Box score and videos here.
The Astros continue their series with the Yankees Saturday evening when Wade Miley (6-4, 3.30) squares off against Masahiro Tanaka (5-5, 3.23). Miley pitched 4 1/3 innings Monday in the Astros 3-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, permitting three runs on four hits and four walks. Tanaka tossed nine shutout innings his last time out, striking out 10 and allowing just two hits in a 3-0 Yankees’ win. The Astros can take the season series from New York, a potentially important variable in regards to postseason positioning, with a victory either Saturday or Sunday. First pitch Saturday is slated for 6:15 CT.