Well, it had to end at some point. The Yankees were technically the hottest team in baseball over the past ten games, winning eight of ten and suddenly allowing fans to think about the postseason again without getting depressed. But the ‘hot stretch’ wasn’t peppered by blowouts and landslide victories; instead, they were slim wins and lucky victories. With that in mind, it wasn’t surprising to see the Yankees lose 4-1 to the Astros on Wednesday. Fans hoped the Yankees were somehow a good team, but they knew the Bombers were still merely a .500 ball club. So, of course, it had to end at some point.
This collective understanding didn’t make the loss string any less. The Yankees’ ace, the pitcher who they can count on to toe the rubber on every fifth day (or, even better, every sixth day) and cruise the team to a victory, came out of the gate limping. Masahiro Tanaka’s stuff wasn’t quite as sharp as usual, his command a tad off, and, as a result, he didn’t put up the expected results.
For just the fifth time all season, Tanaka yielded over three runs (four, in this start). Two came from a Colby Rasmus home run, and two from singles via Carlos Correa and Carlos Gomez. The Yankees’ offense sputtered, first thrown into fits by Lance McCullers’ dominant curveball (he struck out ten in six frames) and then shut down by the bullpen.
The Yankees ‘pen was solid as well, but the quality results didn’t come from the usual suspects. Instead, the final three innings were guided by Adam Warren (one inning, one hit) and Luis Severino (two innings, one walk). Both looked good, though Warren was bailed out by Brian McCann, who caught Jake Marisnick trying to steal third.
The lone run of the evening was by way of Brian McCann, who crushed a pitch over Tal’s Hill for a solo home run. The rest of the offense managed just seven baserunners and looked relatively hopeless against Astros pitchers.
The Play: Carlos Gomez singles in Preston Tucker (+.129 WPA)
Believe it or not, walking two straight batters is a terrible idea. Tanaka would learn that the hard way, when walks to Preston Tucker and Alex Bregman set the table for a Carlos Gomez single, scoring Tucker. It the Astros up 1-0 and gave them a lead they would not surrender.
Yankees: Brian McCann (1-4, HR, R, RBI, 2 K)
Astros: Colby Rasmus (1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, 2 K)
The Highlight: Brian McCann hits a home run
Minute Maid Park is considered to be a hitter’s haven, so home runs don’t need to be hit overly far to find the seats. Well, unless we’re talking about centerfield, where balls hit over Tal’s Hill need to be crushed to make it out. Brian McCann did just that on a 429 foot solo shot, his 15th on the year.
The Yankees will have a off day on Thursday before making their way to Tampa Bay on Friday. Things will start off with Ivan Nova (4.65 ERA) taking the mound against Jake Odorizzi (4.10 ERA). The Rays are in the AL East cellar, so this should be an easier series before the Yankees have to face some very good teams in August.
Photo: Troy Taormina / USA Today Sports; Video: MLBAM