3-run lead, 3 outs from Bronx win -- then, it all falls apart

Robust performance puts Astros in command before Pressly allows four runs in ninth

June 24th, 2022

NEW YORK -- and quieted the raucous Yankee Stadium crowd with early three-run homers, shook off a shaky first inning and didn’t allow a hit over the next five, and Kyle Tucker made one of the best catches of the season with a grab at the right-field wall to end the eighth.

The Astros had put together one of their most complete and impressive games of the season for eight innings Thursday night and appeared headed for a statement win over the front-running Yankees before baseball’s best bullpen allowed it to implode in the ninth inning in the Bronx.

The Yankees got to Astros closer  for four runs in the ninth, with Aaron Hicks tying the game with a three-run homer and Aaron Judge delivering the walk-off against  with a single to left for a 7-6 win over the Astros, who lost for the first time in 40 games this year when leading after eight innings.

“I’m sure Press, he’s not the guy to make excuses. He’s been so good, our bullpen’s been so good all year,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Things started unraveling, and we couldn't put it back. It was a tough one to lose, especially here because we played such a good game tonight. We got some guys who swung a lot better, guys are getting better. It’s a tough one to swallow, but that's baseball. You’ve got to swallow it, whether you like it or not.”

Pressly, who had converted 14 of his 16 previous save chances this year, walked the first two batters he faced in the ninth, bringing the tying run to the plate and waking up the crowd. Hicks crushed a 93 mph fastball left over the middle of the plate and watched a no-doubt, 412-foot homer sail over the right-field wall to tie the game.

Pressly didn’t retire any of the five batters he faced and now has a 7.64 ERA in 17 2/3 career innings against the Yankees in the playoffs and regular season. The Yankees extended their home winning streak to 15 games.

“It’s just one of those things [where] I didn't have it tonight. Sucks,” Pressly said. “Guys go out there and they grind and put up runs, and I just didn't make my pitches. Sometimes you can get away with some mistakes and sometimes you can't.”

Prior to the ninth, the game had been a thing of beauty for the Astros, who began a stretch of nine consecutive games against the Mets and Yankees -- the two teams with the best records in baseball -- by sweeping the Mets in two games in Houston on Tuesday and Wednesday. They were three outs from beating the Yankees, too.

“They’re a good ballclub, and they battled and won tonight,” said Bregman, who’s recorded multiple hits in three consecutive games. “We come back and turn the page and look forward to tomorrow and continue to compete.”

Bregman (first inning) and Alvarez (third) slugged three-run homers off Yankees starter Jameson Taillon to take a 6-3 lead, and Valdez dominated after a rough first inning. Valdez didn’t allow a hit after Giancarlo Stanton's three-run homer in the first, sending down 17 of the final 19 batters he faced. He gave up three runs and two hits over six innings.

Valdez was done after 101 pitches, 16 of which came in one at-bat against Anthony Rizzo in the sixth inning when he eventually walked him.

“That’s the most pitches I’ve ever thrown to a batter in an at-bat,” Valdez said. “He was able to win that battle there, but it definitely was taxing. That’s the reason why I was only able to throw six innings.”

That was one of six walks the Astros issued, three of which came around to score. That included walks to Stanton and Gleyber Torres to start the disastrous ninth inning for the Astros.

“The walks really hurt, and they came back to haunt us,” Baker said. “This club depends on walks and homers. They got both of them tonight.”