Yankees fall to rival Astros in pitchers’ duel

Yankees fall to rival Astros in pitchers’ duel

HOUSTON — The Yankees have played 14 teams and have a winning record against all but one.

It shouldn’t be hard to come up with the exception, as the Yankees lost to the Astros, 2-1, on Thursday — and have lost three of the team’s five meetings so far this year.

They’ve also been held to one runs or fewer in three of those games, including last week’s no-hitter in The Bronx.

“They’re good,’’ Aaron Boone said of why Houston’s pitchers have been so effective against his team. “They’re one of the best teams at keeping you from scoring as there is.”

This one snapped the Yankees’ four-game winning streak, as the visitors opened a 10-game, four-city trip in front of a sellout crowd of 40,674 at Minute Maid Park in a makeup of a game that was scheduled for the first week of the regular season, but pushed back due to the MLB lockout.

But Boone is confident something positive will come out of the results.

Alex Bregman’s two-run double off Luis Severino in the third innings was the difference in the Yankees’ 2-1 loss to the Astros.
AP; Getty Images

“They’ve done a good job, for the most part, of holding us down,’’ the manager said of the first-place Astros. “That’s gonna happen sometimes against good teams. We’ve got to learn from all this and hopefully gain important information from facing their guys.”

The loss dropped the Yankees’ MLB-best record to 56-21, as Luis Severino — facing a lineup without Yordan Alvarez and Jeremy Pena, injured when they collided into each other trying to make a play on Wednesday at Citi Field — was outdueled by Luis Garcia.

Severino allowed just a pair of runs in six innings — thanks to a two-run double by Alex Bregman in the third — but the Yankees only came up with an Anthony Rizzo homer in the sixth.

The Yankees managed just a walk against Garcia until the third, when Joey Gallo walked and DJ LeMahieu singled with one out.

But Aaron Judge flied to center and Rizzo struck out to end their first threat of the night.

The Astros — who have won five of six — loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning, as Severino allowed a leadoff double to Jake Meyers and two-out walks to Aledmys Diaz and Kyle Tucker.

After walking Tucker in a nine-pitch at-bat, Severino gave up a two-run double off the left-field wall to Bregman.

The inning ended in wild fashion, as Severino was having problems with PitchCom and took the device out of his hat, which led Tucker to break for home, but Severino recovered in time to get the ball to Jose Trevino for the final out and keep it a two-run game.

Anthony Rizzo belts a solo home run in the sixth inning of the Yankees' loss.
Anthony Rizzo belts a solo home run in the sixth inning of the Yankees’ loss.
USA TODAY Sports

Severino then retired the final nine batters he faced.

The Yankees finally got to Garcia in the top of the sixth.

After the right-hander whiffed Judge to start the inning, Rizzo fell behind, 0-2, before ripping a homer to right to cut the deficit to 2-1.

It snapped a 1-for-34 skid for Rizzo and ended Garcia’s night.

Giancarlo Stanton singled off Ryne Stanek and Gleyber Torres drew a two-out walk, but Trevino grounded out and the Yankees dropped to 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position.

Hector Neris and Rafael Montero pitched scoreless innings out of the Houston bullpen before Ryan Pressly, who had a blown save against the Yankees last week, got through the ninth to preserve the win.

It was a one-day stop in Houston for the Yankees, in the midst of 20 games in 20 days, sandwiched between Wednesday’s win in The Bronx over the A’s and Friday’s series opener against the Guardians in Cleveland.

And as much of a challenge as the schedule might be, it’s clear the Astros will be tough to beat, regardless of the circumstances. The Yankees will return to Houston later in July — and perhaps in October.

“That’s still a long way away, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that was the case,’’ Josh Donaldson said of playing the Astros in the postseason. “But we can’t think about it at this moment.”

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