Not only did Aaron Judge become the fastest player to record 250 home runs with his leadoff blast in the fifth inning, prospect Jasson Dominguez made his big league debut memorable by homering off Astros ace Justin Verlander in the first inning of a 6-2 Yankees victory.
At the age of 20 years and 206 days, Dominguez became the youngest Yankee to appear in a game in 39 years. His two-run shot to left field came on the second pitch of his first career at-bat.
"He just hit a two-run homer off Justin Verlander for his first at-bat in the big leagues," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "That's a pretty strong entry. That's pretty impressive. That's the way to announce your presence with authority. It was pretty cool."
Judge hit his 30th home run this season after Dominguez clubbed his first. Veterans D.J. LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton also went deep with their 14th and 21st home runs, respectively.
"The three stalwarts and then the new guys," Boone said, also referring to catcher Austin Wells, who made his major league debut. "That's one of those in what's been a long grind, a tough season, one of those that you enjoy a little bit."
Right-hander Luis Severino (4-8, 6.64 ERA) is the scheduled starter for the Yankees (66-69) on Saturday. He tossed seven shutout innings while earning the win over the Detroit Tigers on Monday, allowing five hits with eight strikeouts. His innings pitched and strikeout totals represented season highs.
Severino has logged consecutive scoreless starts after going 0-3 with a 10.80 ERA over his first three starts last month.
Severino is 2-4 with a 4.54 ERA over eight career appearances (seven starts) against the Astros. He allowed five earned runs on five hits — including two home runs — and three walks with four strikeouts over four innings in a 7-3 home loss to the Astros on Aug. 4.
Rookie right-hander Hunter Brown (10-9, 4.47) has the starting assignment for the Astros. He alternated wins and losses over his five starts in August, defeating the Tigers 9-2 on last Saturday after allowing two runs on four hits with nine strikeouts over five innings. Brown is 4-2 with a 5.53 ERA over his last six outings (five starts) following four consecutive losing decisions.
Brown has faced the Yankees on one occasion, earning the 7-3 victory on Aug. 4 after allowing two runs on five hits and one walk with four strikeouts over six innings.
Having traversed a long, winding road back to optimal health, the Astros entered the final full month of the regular season as healthy as they've been since the start of spring training. But they not only opened September with a loss that snapped their five-game winning streak, the Astros (77-59) suffered a pair of injury scares that could impact the remainder of this three-game series.
Second baseman Jose Altuve fouled a pitch off his left shin in the bottom of the first inning and departed an inning later with a left leg contusion. Astros manager Dusty Baker said he didn't think Altuve would need an MRI, but his status for the rest of the series is undetermined.
"He was sore when the game started from the last few occurrences, so I couldn't take a chance," Baker said of Altuve, who, according to the manager, has fouled multiple pitches off his front leg recently.
Astros left fielder Yordan Alvarez was hit by pitches in the first and sixth innings, including one that struck his right hamstring. Baker said it was fortunate that Alvarez wasn't hit on the knee.
"He'll be sore," Baker said.
—Field Level Media