Justin Verlander, Astros ends Yankees’ home winning streak


Justin Verlander, Astros ends Yankees' home winning streak

NEW YORK — There was no panic at the Astros as they exited Yankee Stadium Thursday night after arguably their heaviest loss of the season. The sting of watching the Yankees score four goals late in the ninth quarter to carve out a win was painful, but the Astros know the momentum is as good as the starting pitcher the next day.

Enter veteran right-hander Justin Verlander ready for action in front of a sold-out crowd in the Bronx on Friday night. Verlander dominated the Yankees for seven innings, allowing four hits and a run on a Giancarlo Stanton homer to send the Astros to a 3-1 win while ending the Bombers’ 15-game winning streak at home.

“Last night was a tough loss,” said Verlander. “Obviously after a tough loss you want to be able to recover and be the stopper and help the team win. I was glad I could do that tonight.”

Right fielder Kyle Tucker gave the Astros the offense they needed with a three-run homer in the sixth inning ahead of Luis Severino. Houston went 3-1 in nine straight games against the Mets and Yankees.

“Our pitching team has done a phenomenal job all year, and we’re confident in whoever’s on the mound,” Tucker said. “With JV on the hill, he always expects the best of himself and so do we. He always gives us as much as he can. We were glad to have him out there on the hill tonight.”

Verlander improved to 9-3 this season, including 6-0 in the seven games he started immediately after an Astros loss. He kept the Yankees off the board until Stanton’s homer in the sixth and allowed one or no earned run for the ninth time this season.

“You saw last night, these guys never give up,” Verlander said. “They have so many comeback wins for a reason. It would be nice if it was a blowout but it’s two good teams so those are the kinds of games you expect.”

Despite a great showing from Verlander, the Astros saw another white-knuckle finish with their undermanned bullpen. Phil Maton beat Aaron Judge, Stanton and Josh Donaldson in the eighth and stranded two runners, and Rafael Montero worked around a few walks in the ninth to pull DJ LeMahieu back for the finals with Judge on deck.

“You have to play all 27 outs, that’s one thing you have to do against them,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said.

Whether it was adrenaline or something else, Verlander’s speed had increased across the board, with all four of his throws being thrown significantly harder than his season average. He threw 64 fastballs at an average speed of 95.5 mph (94.8 mph this season).

“That’s very welcome,” he said with a smile.

Verlander threw 41 pitches through two innings, but after that never more than 17 in either inning. The Yankees got more aggressive early in the count, which helped Verlander make some pitches to grab some quick outs. He finished with 102 pitches.

“He found a rhythm because he had a lot of near misses early on, which increased his pitch count in the early innings,” Baker said. “They took narrow pitches. They don’t know if that was their game plan or not to make it work. But he found his rhythm and was up front the whole time. It’s always great when you can hit forward, especially when you have big hitters like they have over there.”

Verlander improved in 31 career starts against the Yankees in the regular season and postseason to 13-8 with a 3.26 ERA, including 5-5 with a 4.07 ERA in 15 starts at Yankee Stadium. It was his first start against the Yankees since Game 5 of the 2019 American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium.

He didn’t care about the setting or the intimidating opponent on Friday night. The Astros just needed a bounceback win, and their ace delivered.

“That’s what you’re hoping for,” Baker said. “This is what the horses do – I’ve said it every time he’s pitched – they break losing streaks and create win streaks, so hopefully that’s creating a win streak for us.”

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