Yankees struggles against Astros continue in 2-1 loss – The Denver Post


HOUSTON — The past week hasn’t been good to the idea that the Yankees are an unbeatable machine, one that’s destined for a long-awaited return to the mountaintop.

Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Astros is the Yankees’ third in their five games against Houston this week. The two wins both came on walk-offs in which they were losing in the eighth inning, too. If not for those two late-inning comebacks (or, if you prefer the blame game, meltdowns from the Astros’ bullpen), we’d be talking about a Yankees team that could set the franchise record for wins without ever beating the team most likely to block their path to the World Series.

It’s the Astros’ starting pitching that has specifically doomed the Yankees. The most runs the Yankees have scored against a Houston starting pitcher is three, which came off Framber Valdez in the first game of the two teams’ recent meetings.

On Thursday, it was Luis Garcia, who did not have an economical night but did have an effective one. Garcia needed 101 pitches to get through 5.1 innings, but he kept the Yankees off the scoreboard until his final hitter of the night. Anthony Rizzo sent Garcia to the showers in the sixth inning with a line drive into the right field seats. That was one of just three hits Garcia gave up, with the other two going for measly singles.

“The secondaries were good. I thought he did a good job with the cutter and the slider, mixing in some curveballs too and a changeup” Aaron Boone said of Garcia. “He did a good job of mixing.”

Luis Severino was good for the Yankees, but as the team has been drastically confronted with over the past week, most of the time you have to be great to beat the Astros. Severino got through six full innings, taking advantage of the extra day of rest that JP Sears’ spot start on Tuesday provided. The third inning proved to be his downfall. Severino allowed two walks and two doubles in that frame, giving Houston two runs that potentially could have been more if not for Kyle Tucker’s ill-advised attempt to steal home.

After Alex Bregman knocked the second double of the inning, bringing in two runners and putting two more at second and third, Severino had an issue with his PitchCom device. As he stood on the mound trying to correct it, Tucker made a mad dash for home, despite the fact that a simple toss to the plate would beat him easily. That’s exactly what happened, and the Yankees got a huge third out as Tucker took the bat—and an RBI opportunity—out of Yuli Gurriel’s hands.

“I was happy,” Severino said. “When he was halfway [down the line] I thought there was no chance he would be safe. Nobody is faster than the ball.”

It’s hard to say if the Astros are a true problem for the Yankees, because it’s hard to say if any five-game sample constitutes a problem in the sport of baseball. Five games is certainly enough to win a playoff series, though, which is likely all that the Yankees’ front office is worried about. To give themselves the best chance at postseason glory, this already-stacked team could definitely improve by bringing in an outfielder.

Joey Gallo just simply does not have it right now. It’s definitely not through a lack of effort or lack of caring, but the fact of the matter is, when Gallo wakes up on Friday it will be July 1, and he will not have a hit since June 17. Even in acknowledging that he’s well above average in the field and his five walks during this span are essentially the same thing as singles, Gallo is about as unplayable as a hitter can be right now.

“He’s just gotta keep grinding through it,” said Boone, who was pleased that Gallo took a walk on Thursday and has drawn some 3-2 counts recently. “It’s certainly been a challenge.”

The right now element is crucial, because Gallo has shown himself to be a good hitter before. Those days just haven’t come as a Yankee, and it’s easy to speculate that playing in New York is not really his vibe. Also, with power hitters, sometimes one good swing is all they need to start hitting home runs in bunches again. We’ll see how long the Yankees are willing to wait for that day to come. But if they’re serious about winning it all, they’d likely stand a much better chance by swinging a trade for an impending free agent like Andrew Benintendi, David Peralta or Ben Gamel to replace Gallo.

On the other side of that, another member of the Yankees’ sizable Italian-American delegation has been sensational. Rookie reliever Ron Marinaccio dazzled again, limiting Houston to no runs and no hits in his inning of work. That gives Marinaccio 12 straight appearances without an earned run, a streak that includes five outings where he recorded four outs or more.

But, if a middle reliever is getting healthy praise after a game, it usually means the stars went dim. Aaron Judge was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and left two runners on base. The Yankees’ final hope was Matt Carpenter, pinch hitting for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, but he struck out on three pitches.

One run isn’t usually enough to win a baseball game, it’s almost never enough to beat the Astros, and Yankee fans should shudder at the idea of repeat performances should the team return to Houston in October.

“We can’t think about that at this moment,” Josh Donaldson said. “This is a day-by-day thing. We’ve been playing really well, we lost today, and we’ll look to bounce back in Cleveland.”



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