After working a smooth first inning, Yankees’ lefty Jordan Montgomery was pulled from the game with elbow tightness in his throwing arm.
Montgomery was promptly sent to New York to be examined and Domingo German was brought in to get outs. With the Yankees battling Justin Verlander and German having struggled early this season, the game seemed to be falling out of their hands quickly.
However, German put his early season struggles behind him. Instead, he came onto the mound and delivered. For four scoreless innings, he matched zeroes with Astros’ ace Justin Verlander. Behind a sharp changeup and a blazing fastball, German shut down one of the best offenses in the American League.
Although the Yankees are hoping that Montgomery’s injury is short-lived, German performing like that would definitely ease the pain of an injury. With Montgomery’s status unknown and his injury seemingly serious, good performances from German as the sixth starter would be invaluable to the Yankees.
Perhaps, German can boost his stock enough to become prime trade bait as Shane Greene did in 2014 when he was called up to replace the injured Masahiro Tanaka. German showed tonight that he can be more than just a stopgap and can be a serviceable pitcher against good teams.
Because he was used in a shorter outing, German could not pitch more than four innings but he managed to hand the ball over to Chad Green with the game tied at zero. Green went on to retire the side 1-2-3 and sent the game into the 7th still tied at zero. Verlander came back out in the 7th and retired his 13th in a row on his 13th strikeout of the night.
With neither offense managing much the whole game, the game seemed destined to head to extras.
In the bottom of the seventh, Delling Betances came on to try to continue his recent success. After striking out Bregman to lead off the inning, Marwin Gonzalez singled to put a runner on first with one out. After a Betances wild pitch, the Astros had a runner on second with one out. However, Betances recovered and got both Evan Gattis and Brian McCann to strike out. Although the game was still tied, just Betances’ dominant performance makes any Yankee fan feel good.
Verlander came back on in the eighth to try to keep the game tied. To lead off the inning, Tyler Austin hit a ball that seemed destined to be an infield base hit. Instead, Carlos Correa made a spectacular play after backhanding the ball and turning and throwing to just get Austin at first. Verlander retired the next two to send the game to the bottom of the eighth still scoreless.
This game had the feeling of the early playoff games in Houston last year with the Yankee’s bullpen and the Astro’s starting pitching dominating.
In the bottom of the eighth, David Robertson came in to try to keep the game scoreless. After quickly retiring pinch-hitter Josh Reddick, it took a six-pitch battle to strike out leadoff hitter George Springer. Then, after giving up a single to Jose Altuve, Robertson recovered to strike out Correa to end the inning.
With the game still tied at zero, Ken Giles came in in the ninth to try to keep the game scoreless to give the Astros a chance to walk it off. Although the Yankees did well against Giles in the playoffs, Giles dominated and struck out the side on Monday night. However, it was a different story on Tuesday.
As soon as Verlander got off the mound, the Yankee’s offense woke up. Aaron Judge led off the inning with a single. Although the Yankees played in Houston, you could the crowd chant “Didi” as Gregorius walked up to the plate with no one out. Gregorius laced a bullet to left center field and he hustled into second to put men on second and third with no one out. Stanton struck out to bring Sanchez up with one out.
The Kraken strikes again
Sanchez swung at the first pitch he saw from Giles and sent it over the centerfield wall in the blink of an eye to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead. This was the third game in the past six games in which Sanchez homered to give the Yankees the lead.
The Yankees were not done there. Hicks smoked a single down the line and stole second. After stealing second and advancing to third on an Andujar ground ball, Hicks came home on a Chris Devenski wild pitch.
A four-run lead would be more than enough for Chapman who came in for the bottom of the ninth to close it out. Chapman struck out the side to give the Yankees their first win in Houston since June 30th, 2017.