Domínguez's HR leads Yanks to rare sweep of Astros

September 4th, 2023

HOUSTON -- It was a whirlwind weekend for , who beamed broadly as he stood in front of his locker in the visiting clubhouse late on Sunday evening, recounting the previous 72 hours in which “The Martian” seemed to make himself right at home in Space City.

Having already hit a home run off likely future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander with his first swing in the Majors, Domínguez delivered again, blasting a go-ahead home run that helped power the suddenly youthful Yankees to a 6-1 victory and a rare sweep of the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

As Domínguez looks ahead to his Yankee Stadium debut on Tuesday against the Tigers, the 20-year-old super prospect indicated that there will be plenty more to see.

“I think it’s going to be big time,” Domínguez said. “I think it’s going to be awesome.”

Domínguez launched a two-run blast in the sixth inning off Houston starter Cristian Javier, helping propel New York to its first three-game sweep of Houston since Sept. 27-29, 2013, a set that marked the final games on the active roster for Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte. 

It was all about saying goodbye then; now, it’s about seeing what’s ahead.

“Obviously, nothing’s gone how we wanted to this year, but we’re playing for a lot,” manager Aaron Boone said. “You never know what can happen. We just want to go out and play our best baseball, and hopefully make some noise this month. Who knows?”

With Domínguez, Anthony Volpe, Austin Wells, Oswald Peraza, Everson Pereira and Oswaldo Cabrera in the lineup, Sunday marked the second straight game in which the Yankees fielded six players age 24 or younger.

That hadn’t happened since Sept. 11, 1969, when Thurman Munson, Bobby Murcer, Ron Blomberg, Stan Bahnsen, Jerry Kenney and Tom Shopay all played against the Senators.

“We did a really good job of managing the small things,” Wells said. “Going out there, getting first-pitch strikes on defense and being able to lay off some good pitches from those guys; they’re a great staff, a great-hitting lineup. It was really cool to be in here, and it was a really big group effort to get three wins here.”

Javier had limited New York to a Gleyber Torres single over the first five frames, then came unraveled in the sixth. DJ LeMahieu doubled home Cabrera with the tying run before Domínguez teed off on a slider, launching a 358-foot drive over the right-field wall.

“I knew he wasn’t going to give me any fastballs,” Domínguez said. “The breaking ball, I was going to sit on it.”

Domínguez joined Yogi Berra (1946), Aaron Judge (2016) and Joe Lefebvre (1980) as Yankees  to hit two homers in their first three career games. Even with only a handful of at-bats under his belt, Boone said that Domínguez already seems “comfortable” in the batter’s box.

“He’s got a chance to be a great player in this league,” Boone said. “He’s off to a pretty good start. With all these guys, I think we’re going to see bumps and growing pains along the way. But to come in here against a really good team and a great environment and have them handle themselves the way they have is really, really encouraging.”

Domínguez’s blast supported Yankees starter Michael King, who navigated five innings of one-run ball, touched only by Kyle Tucker’s first-inning sacrifice fly in a 69-pitch effort. King lauded the game plan from Wells, who also threw out his first big league runner, as a contributing factor.

“We had a ton of conversations between innings about what we think they were doing, what they were sitting on, different sequences,” King said. “I loved working with him.”

Said Wells: “It gives me all the confidence in the world to have the guys on the mound be able to trust me right off the bat. That’s what I’ve been trying to do.”

In the ninth, Torres hit a long home run toward the railroad tracks in left field, Wells roped a run-scoring double and Peraza stroked an RBI double that sent much of the home crowd streaming for the exits. It was important insurance as the Yankees celebrated a weekend that provided a glimpse of how bright their future could be.

“You could see it,” King said. “We’re just having fun, playing a lot more loose, and they’ve definitely brought an awesome energy in here.”