Astros outmatched as Yankees secure 9-4 win

Astros outmatched as Yankees secure 9-4 win
Yordan Alvarez looks lost at the plate. Composite Getty Image.

Juan Soto homered and drove in five runs, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton also went deep and the New York Yankees beat the Houston Astros 9-4 on Wednesday night.

It was the first time the power trio all connected in the same game for the Yankees, who won their fifth straight and improved to 6-0 against the Astros this season.

“That certainly puts a smile on your face when those three guys do that,” New York manager Aaron Boone said.

Stanton hit a 119.9 mph rocket into the second deck that was the hardest-hit ball in the majors this year.

“We all know how capable we are and when you have nights like that, it’s great,” Soto said.

New York starter Carlos Rodón (3-2) bounced back from his worst outing of the season last week in Baltimore. He allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, earning a nice hand from the home crowd.

Kyle Tucker and Jeremy Peña homered for the Astros, who lost their fourth in a row and dropped to 12-24.

Soto launched a two-run homer on the first pitch he saw in the first inning. He connected for a 440-foot drive on a fastball from Houston rookie Spencer Arrighetti (0-4), sending his 10th homer off an advertisement at the back of the Astros’ bullpen in left-center field.

“I feel like when I’m hitting the ball that way and I’m in my best path and my swing is in the best spot, it's everything that I’ve been asking for with all my practices and everything,” Soto said.

Judge lined a 404-foot shot to right-center to open the third. Two batters later, Stanton’s 447-foot solo drive stayed fair inside the left-field foul pole.

It was Stanton’s third hardest-hit homer since Statcast tracking began in 2015, and it came one night after he launched a 118.8 mph homer off Justin Verlander.

“I feel like the night before he had the hardest hit in baseball,” Judge said. “Then he outdid himself again tonight. Just impressive.”

Judge’s homer was part of his second three-hit game this season. He added a pair of doubles, including a two-run double that put the Yankees up 8-1 in the sixth.

New York improved to 34-4 when Stanton and Judge homer in the same game, including the postseason.

Throw in Soto’s drive, and the trio hit a combined 1,291 feet of home runs.

New York beat the Astros for the ninth straight time dating to last year. The season series concludes Thursday at Yankee Stadium.

Since the start of last season, the Yankees are 11-2 against Houston, which eliminated them from the playoffs four times from 2015-22, including in the AL Championship Series in 2017, 2019 and 2022.

Soto also hit RBI singles in the second and eighth along with a run-scoring groundout in the sixth. He is batting .538 (14 for 26) against the Astros in his first season with the Yankees and had his fourth career game with at least five RBIs.

“He’s always been hard (to face),” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “It doesn’t matter who’s pitching. Juan Soto is a great hitter.”

Jake Meyers hit an RBI triple and Jose Altuve had an RBI double in the ninth for Houston, which got 11 hits but went 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

Arrighetti allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings.


Astros: RHP Cristian Javier (neck), who pitched 3 1/3 innings Saturday in a rehab start for Double-A Corpus Christi, threw a bullpen ahead of his return to the rotation this weekend. … RHP Jose Urquidy (right forearm) and OF Chas McCormick (right hamstring) are expected to begin rehab assignments this weekend.

Yankees: RHP Tommy Kahnle (right shoulder) struck out two in one inning for Class A Tampa during his first minor league rehab appearance. Kahnle will appear in at least four more rehab games before possibly being activated. … RHP Nick Burdi (right hip), who made his first rehab appearance for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday, could be activated Friday.


Houston RHP Ronel Blanco (3-0, 2.09 ERA) opposes RHP Marcus Stroman (2-1, 3.41) in Thursday’s series finale.

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One presumes the Chicken Littles have stopped clucking about the Astros’ season being a goner, or if not gone, on life support. It wasn’t when they were 7-19. It wasn’t when they were 12-24. It certainly isn’t now that they’ve won six straight games and eight of their last nine. Another three or four weeks of inept play could have doomed them, but the worm has turned. A 20-25 record is no cause for celebration, but it has the Astros within four games of first place. Yes, getting to play the A’s four times this week helped. And?

I detailed the schedule issue on our Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast this week. The Astros were flat lousy for the season’s first six weeks. But… Starting the week the Astros had played a whopping 32 of their 40 games against teams with a winning record as of Monday. The Seattle Mariners had played 23 such games, the Texas Rangers only 16. The Philadelphia Phillies have been sensational so far and are fully legit. But… The Phillies entered the weekend having played three games vs. teams now sporting a winning record. Three! Out of 45 games. Going into this weekend's series only the Blue Jays, White Sox, and Angels had played more games against winning teams than had the Astros. It’s not mere coincidence that the Blue Jays, White Sox, and Angels are the three last place teams in the American League. The Astros were not up to the challenge of their first quarter schedule, but by no means did it render them dead, particularly in the thus far Mild, Mild, American League West.

A good Brewers team visits Minute Maid Park for three games this weekend. The Astros beat their best starter Friday night. Next the Astros get the pathetic Angels here for three before a three-game series at Oakland. Meanwhile the West leading Mariners start a ten-game road trip this weekend: three at the excellent Orioles, four at the excellent Yankees, three at the respectable Nationals. The Astros stand a good chance of overtaking the M’s by the end of this month if they can win the four-game series they open Memorial Day in Seattle.

Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers snapped a five game losing streak Wednesday to eke back over .500 at 23-22. The reigning World Series champs hope to get somewhat well vs. the Angels in Arlington this weekend but dropped the series opener to drop back to .500. For their sake they better because the Rangers then hit the road for Philadelphia and Minnesota.

Naturally, many Astros fans are upset with Ronel Blanco serving a 10 game suspension for illegally using whatever substance on his glove and non-pitching hand. The suspension is basically automatic. The suspension is also not a big problem. Blanco has been fantastic since getting a starting rotation spot only because of Justin Verlander’s delayed start to his season. It’s said that all life owes us is opportunity. Man, did Blanco seize his. With just seven big league starts to his name before entering this season as a 30-year old, Blanco has made eight this season with a sparkling 2.09 earned run average. So, what’s that about the suspension is not a big problem?

Blanco will miss one start and have another pushed back a day or two. That’s just not a big deal. In fact it may be helpful in the bigger picture. With last year being the first time in his professional career that Blanco topped 100 innings pitched (125 1/3), the Astros need to be wary of Blanco’s workload which is on pace to blow past last year’s career-high innings total. J.P. France probably pitched over his head for a while last year, but went well past his prior career-high innings total and faded badly. Cristian Javier was tremendous in 2022 while pitching more than in any previous year, but he pitched even more in 2023 and faded badly.

Alex Bregman lives! After being nearly inconceivably inept through the first quarter of the season, the Alex awakening in the Oakland series was not shocking but most welcomed. Over his first 37 games Bregman had a paltry seven extra base hits. Even with a feeble .201 batting average and .534 OPS, that Bregman had scored just eight runs over those 37 games was hard to believe. Then Monday and Tuesday saw five extra base hits and four runs scored.

In a trade not commanding any headlines, Dana Brown Wednesday sent outfielder Corey Julks to the White Sox for 20-year-old low minor league pitcher Luis Rodriguez. There is now no reason to call it a great Astros trade but Brown made a smart deal. Julks had no future here, hence he would have been released if no deal was struck. Taking a flyer on a young arm can’t hurt. Frankly, the White Sox are dumb to trade a young arm of any promise whatsoever for a 28-year-old outfielder with limited value. Julks was a nice story for parts of last season. The Clear Brook High School grad and UH product had a couple windows of production, highlighted by a sizzling nine game 17 for 34 stretch straddling June and July. Alas, not two weeks later Julks began what would become an 0 for 36 nightmare. He was sent to the minors for good in late-August.

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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