One regular-season win over the Houston Astros hardly erases the bitter sting of getting swept out of the American League Championship Series, but the New York Yankees can draw some encouragement from producing significantly better at-bats than they did last October
New York followed up getting 13 hits in a 7-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday by logging five hits and six walks in a 4-3 victory over Houston on Thursday
The Yankees are seeking their first three-game winning streak since sweeping the Kansas City Royals from July 21-23. Their previous three-game winning streak was part of a run of four straight from May 27-30 against the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners, two games each
"Heavier, tougher, grindier," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said in his description of his team's at-bats on Thursday. "All those things that at times have been really strong suits for us. We want to make you feel the at-bats whether you have success against us or as a pitching staff or we get to you.
Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run homer, giving him nine homers and 21 RBIs in his past 20 games. Rookie Anthony Volpe delivered the tiebreaking single in the sixth inning, driving in Harrison Bader, who drew a two-out walk after falling behind 0-2 in the count
"When you don't get the job done and you lose to a team like that on a grand stage (in the ALCS), it obviously stings a little bit," New York starter Clarke Schmidt said. "So to come here and get a win on the first night is a big deal. We're trying to put it to them this series.
Houston is 12-7 since the All-Star break but went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Thursday and left seven men on base. Kyle Tucker hit a tying homer and Martin Maldonado had three hits, but Jose Altuve grounded out with two on in the ninth to end the game
"We had a tough night with runners in scoring position and we had some action even until the end," Houston manager Dusty Baker said
After facing Shane McClanahan and Cristian Javier the previous two days, the Yankees will oppose Hunter Brown (7-7, 4.12 ERA), who leads AL rookies in innings (111 1/3) and strikeouts (126)
Brown went 1-3 with a 5.92 ERA in five July outings and got the win on Saturday when he allowed two runs on four hits in six innings against Tampa Bay
Brown will be making his first career start against the Yankees. His only appearance against them was in a relief role when he walked two and got two outs in the eighth inning of Game 3 of the ALCS on Oct. 22
Luis Severino (2-5, 7.49 ERA) will attempt to rebound from another rough outing for the Yankees. Severino last pitched Sunday in Baltimore, where he allowed seven of his nine runs in the opening inning and tied a season high by yielding 10 hits. He was out after 3 1/3 innings
Severino had allowed four runs in 11 2/3 innings over his two previous starts, but Sunday marked the fourth time he allowed at least seven runs in his 12 starts this season
Severino is 2-3 with a 3.82 ERA in seven regular-season appearances (six starts) against the Astros. He last faced them in Game 2 of the ALCS at Houston on Oct. 20, when he allowed three runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings and took the loss
--Field Level Medi