Alex Bregman hit a two-run double early and the Astros held on to the 2-1 victory.
Houston went 3-2 to the Major League-leading Yankees and swept four games with the Mets, who had the second-best record in baseball before being overtaken by the Astros.
“It was a great win for the fans to watch and it was great for the city of Houston and it was great for my ball club,” said manager Dusty Baker. “We played well during this time. We beat two very good teams and played them in a short amount of time and you usually don’t.”
The Yankees were able to score just two runs together in their three recent defeats against Houston. That included a 3-0 loss on Saturday in which three Astros-pitchers combined to form a no-hitter.
“They’re good,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “They’re one of the best teams to stop you from scoring. So they’ve done a good job holding us back for the most part. That’s going to happen sometimes against good teams.”
The Yankees were just one game in town to be part of a series that was scrapped due to the lockout. They will complete the series here on July 21 with a doubleheader.
Houston-starter Luis García (6-5) gave up three hits and one run, striking out six in 5 1/3 innings for his third consecutive win. Ryan Pressly struckout two batters in a scoreless ninth for his 17th save.
Jake Meyers doubled with no outs in the third inning before Aledmys Díaz walked with two outs. Kyle Tucker walked to load the bases for Bregman’s double to give Houston a 2-0 lead.
The Astros had a chance to fill the lead, but the inning ended in a strange play after the New York starter’s interference Luis Severino‘s PitchCom device.
While Yuli Gurriel was at work, a frustrated Severino took off his cap and held the PitchCom speaker to his ear, apparently unable to hear instructions from catcher Jose Trevino†
Tucker saw Severino get distracted from third base and try to sneak home. Severino had the PitchCom earpiece in his right hand and had to maneuver quickly to get the baseball back in his throwing hand. He threw home while still holding his cap, and his pitch narrowly hit Tucker and ended the inning.
“I saw him when he was halfway through, but nobody is faster than the ball,” said Severino.
Severino was asked about making the throw with the device and his cap still in his hands.
“I’m very good with my hands,” he said with a laugh.
Boone was delighted with the heads-up game.
“Sevy didn’t panic and reacted in the right way and made the game,” said Boone.
Baker thought it was a good opportunity for Tucker to seize.
“If he throws that ball wrong in some way, he’s safe,” Baker said. “I urge our guys to play aggressively and I thought he still had a chance to be safe. … That was a bold move that almost worked.”
Anthony Rizzo hit a solo homer for the Yankees in the sixth inning, but they struggled to generate much more on offense as they broke a four-game winning streak.
Severino (4-3) gave up three hits and two runs in six innings.
The Astros were without batter Yordan Alvarez and short stop Jeremy Peña after the two were involved in a nasty outfield collision in a win over the Mets on Wednesday. Baker said both continued testing for concussion, and he wasn’t sure how long they would be sidelined.
Garcia had retired seven of the last eight batters he faced with three consecutive strikeouts when Rizzo hit his 21st homerun into right field to narrow the lead to 2-1 and chase Garcia with one out in the sixth. Ryne Stanek took over and Giancarlo Stanton greeted him with a single before Gleyber Torres walked with two outs in the inning.
Stanek retired Jose Trevino for the third out to extend his run of consecutive scoreless innings to 20.
Yankees: LHP Aroldis Chapman (left Achilles tendonitis) will be activated from the injured list on Friday. Boone said Chapman, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since May 22, can be used in a variety of ways, not just as the closer. “We’ll pick places and try to get him to places where he can be successful,” Boone said. “That could be anywhere from a high leverage situation to medium leverage to low leverage.”
Astros: Bench coach Joe Espada, first base coach Omar Lopez and quality control coach Dan Firova all missed Thursday’s game due to health and safety protocols. Wladimir Sutil, the development coach of Triple-A Sugar Land, joined the team to coach first base.
Yankees: Gerrit Cole of New York (6-2, 2.99 ERA) takes on Aaron Civale of Cleveland (2-4, 7.20) on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series between the Yankees and Guardians.
Astros: RHP Cristian Javier (5-3, 2.73) takes on Los Angeles RHP Michael Lorenzen (6-5, 4.24) when the Astros and Angels open a three-game run on Friday night. It is the first start for Javier since he had a career high of 13 in seven innings of the combined no-hitter.
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