HOUSTON — The Astros jumped out to an early lead over the Yankees in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader with the help of a pair of bunt singles to start the game. They flexed a little more muscle early on in taking control of Game 2.
Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman hit back-to-back homers in the first inning off Yankees starter Domingo Germán and Chas McCormick added key insurance runs with a two-run homer in the sixth inning to send the Astros to a 7-5 victory and a sweep of the doubleheader at Minute Maid Park.
“Our pitching staff did a good job today of keeping us in the ballgame and they pitched really well to get us the lead,” Bregman said. “McCormick’s insurance proved huge later in the game. We did a good job swinging the bat today. Obviously not playing for three days [for the All-Star break]there’s a bit of rust in there, but we’ll come back tomorrow and get going.”
By beating the Yankees for the fifth time in seven meetings this season, the Astros moved to within 2 1/2 games of the Bronx Bombers for the best record in the American League. They also opened up a 10-game lead atop the AL West over the Mariners, who will put their 14-game winning streak on the line Friday in the series opener against the Astros in Seattle.
“I think we played good baseball today,” Bregman said. “We’re landing quite late [Thursday night]so hopefully we can get a lot of good sleep and then [Friday] come back ready to go, show up there ready to compete and ready to fight.”
Right-hander Brandon Bielak, called up to be the 27th man for the doubleheader, threw 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief before Aaron Judge hit a three-run homer in the ninth to close the gap. With the tension building, Rafael Montero — who threw a scoreless eighth in Game 1 — got Matt Carpenter to ground into a game-ending double play.
“You haven’t seen too many guys come out and pitch in both games of a doubleheader,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We tried to stay out of it when the day started. … He said he was fine, felt good and Bielak ate up some quality innings against a quality team.
Alvarez was activated from the injured list before Game 1 and drew an intentional walk as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning before hitting his 27th homer in his first at-bat of the day in Game 2. He added a two-run double. in the second inning, giving him 63 RBI.
“Beautiful swings and he’s amazing to watch,” Bregman said. “He’s been incredible this year and we’re definitely lucky to have him on this team.”