NEW YORK (AP) Rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the sixth inning, helping the New York Yankees to a 4-3 win over the Houston Astros on Thursday night in a rematch of last season’s American League Championship Series.
Giancarlo Stanton and Billy McKinney hit back-to-back homers off Cristian Javier in the first inning for the Yankees, who beat the Astros at home for the first time since June 26, 2022, which was one day after Javier and two relievers combined to no-hit New York.
The Yankees, who were 52-19 prior to the no-hitter, went 47-44 the remainder of the regular season before edging Cleveland in the AL Division Series and getting swept by the Astros in the ALCS. Houston won Games 3 and 4 in New York.
“I think it’s hard to ignore what they did to us last year,” said Yankees starter Clarke Schmidt, who allowed two runs in five innings Thursday. “When you don’t get the job done and you lose to a team like that on a grand stage, it obviously stings a little bit. So to come out here and get a win on the first night’s a big deal.”
Thursday’s win was the second straight for the Yankees, who beat the Tampa Bay Rays a night earlier. New York posted consecutive wins over opponents with winning records for the first time since beating the Baltimore Orioles on July 3-4.
The Yankees are 57-52 and in last place in the AL East, 2 1/2 games behind the third wild card, the Toronto Blue Jays.
“We’re in a spot to still be effective, still do damage,” Stanton said after homering for the second straight game. “We’ve got plenty of time.”
Jake Meyers and Martín Maldonado each had an RBI in the second for the Astros, who tied the score on Kyle Tucker’s homer leading off the sixth against Wandy Peralta. It was the first extra-base hit the left-handed Peralta has surrendered against a left-handed hitter this season.
Kendall Graveman (3-5) retired the first two batters of the sixth before Harrison Bader worked a walk after falling behind 0-2. Bader then stole second before scoring on Volpe’s single to right-center.
“I think he’s getting better as the year goes on and making adjustments at the big league level,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
Michael King (3-4), the third of five New York pitchers, earned the win with 1 2/3 innings of one-hit ball. Clay Holmes gave up a pair of singles in the ninth, but got Jose Altuve to hit into a game-ending force-out to earn his 15th save.
Maldonado finished with three hits out of the No. 9 spot in the lineup for the sixth time in his six seasons with the Astros.
Houston was 3 for 18 with runners on base Thursday night.
“We had a tough night with runners in scoring position and we had some action, even until the end,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said.
Javier was charged with three runs over 4 2/3 innings. He threw 102 pitches, including 34 in the first.
“I’m glad we didn’t have to go get him because of too many pitches,” Baker said. “But he settled down. He gave us a chance to win.”
NEW YORK STATE OF MIND
Justin Verlander rejoined his former teammates Thursday - two days after he was traded back to Houston by the rebuilding Mets and fewer than nine months after he helped the Astros win the World Series.
“It feels a little weird because it hasn’t been that long, so it feels like you don’t miss a beat and you’re right back in the locker room,” Verlander said before the game. “But on the other hand, there’s this whole segment that happened. So here I am, still staying in my apartment in New York.”
Verlander is slated to make the first start of his second stint with the Astros on Saturday, which means he’ll be making a third straight start in New York. He earned wins for the Mets at Yankee Stadium on July 25, and over the Nationals at Citi Field on Sunday, when he recorded his 250th career victory.
“Well, he’ll get out of New York soon,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said with a laugh.
HARD HABIT TO BREAK
Altuve, one of three Astros players remaining from the 2017 team that was embroiled in a sign-stealing scandal on its way to the first championship in franchise history, was booed prior to each of his five at-bats. An “Altuve cheats!” chant rang out in the fifth inning while a profane chant was heard in the seventh.
Astros: RHP Ronel Blanco was optioned to Triple-A Sugar Lake to make room on the active roster for Verlander.
Yankees: 1B Anthony Rizzo (post-concussion syndrome) was placed on the 10-day injured list and IF/OF Oswaldo Cabrera was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Rizzo believes he is experiencing the effects of a pickoff play collision with the San Diego Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. on May 28. He has hit just .172 with on homer in 169 at-bats since the incident. Manager Aaron Boone said Rizzo, who has been prescribed three supplements designed to treat concussions, is week to week.
RHP Hunter Brown (7-7, 4.12 ERA) is slated to start for the Astros on Friday against struggling Yankees RHP Luis Severino (2-5, 7.49 ERA). This will be Brown’s first start against New York. Severino went 1-3 with an 11.22 ERA in five July starts.
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