Astros close gap on Yanks with doubleheader sweep
Alvarez, Bregman, McCormick homer as Houston wins 5 of 7 meetings vs. NY
HOUSTON -- The Astros jumped out to an early lead over the Yankees in Game 1 of Thursday's doubleheader with the help of a pair of bunt singles to start the game. They flexed a little bit more muscle in the early going to take control of Game 2.
Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman hit back-to-back homers in the first inning off Yankees starter Domingo Germán and Chas McCormick added key insurance runs with a two-run homer in the sixth inning to send the Astros to a 7-5 win and a sweep of the doubleheader at Minute Maid Park.
“Our pitching staff did a great job today of keeping us in the ballgame, and they threw really well to get us off to a lead,” Bregman said. “McCormick’s insurance proved to be huge later in the game. We did a good job of swinging the bat today. Obviously, not playing for three days [for the All-Star break], there’s a little rust in there, but we’ll come back out tomorrow and get going.”
In beating the Yankees for the fifth time in seven meetings this season, the Astros moved to within 2 1/2 games of the Bronx Bombers for the best record in the American League. They also opened up a 10-game lead atop the AL West over the Mariners, who will put their 14-game winning streak on the line Friday in the series opener against the Astros in Seattle.
“I think we played good baseball today,” Bregman said. “We land pretty late [Thursday night], so hopefully we can get a lot of good sleep and then [Friday] come back ready to go, show up there ready to compete and ready to battle.”
Right-hander Brandon Bielak, called up to be the 27th man for the doubleheader, threw 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief before Aaron Judge clobbered a three-run homer in the ninth to close the gap. With the tension building, Rafael Montero -- who threw a scoreless eighth in Game 1 -- got Matt Carpenter to hit into a game-ending double play.
“You haven’t seen too many guys come out and pitch in both games of a doubleheader,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We were trying to stay away from that when the day started. … He said he was fine, feeling good and Bielak ate up some quality innings against a quality team.”
Alvarez was activated from the injured list prior to Game 1 and drew an intentional walk as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning before hitting his 27th homer in his first at-bat of the day in Game 2. He added a two-run double in the second inning, giving him 63 RBIs.
“Beautiful swings and he’s amazing to watch,” Bregman said. “He’s been incredible this year, and we’re definitely fortunate he’s on this team.”