Andy Vasquez Staff Writer, @andy_vasquez
Published 3:32 p.m. UTC May 31, 2018
NEW YORK — A lot can happen between May and October, especially on the baseball field. But it sure feels like the Yankees are sending a message to the defending champs, and everyone else in baseball.
This team is a force to be reckoned with.
The Yankees beat the Astros 5-3 on Wednesday night at the Stadium, taking the rubber match of this three-game series. Luis Severino was brilliant again, striking out 11, and Gary Sanchez broke out of a slump for a key hit as the Yankees (35-17) have now won 10 of their last 11 completed series’ to climb back to a season-high-matching 18 games over .500.
It’s not just that they’re winning, it’s who they’re beating.
The Yankees took four of six from the Astros and Angels during this homestand. They’ve now beaten Houston, the team that knocked them out in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series last October, in five out of seven games this season.
The Yankees know their May record against the Astros won’t mean much if they meet again in October. But they also know they’ve gotten Houston’s attention.
“When I look across as that club, I look at them as they’re a really good team,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I certainly think we have their respect and we know we’re a really good team. But we also recognize it is only May.
“Look, it’s great to go up against the best and have some success. There’s no doubt about it. But I would say, it’s just a long season and I think both sides have a lot of confidence that we have a chance to have special seasons.”
Severino is one of the reasons the Yankees know they can be special. He was brilliant, yet again Wednesday, mixing his fastball with a strong changeup and devastating slider. He allowed only two runs and four hits in seven innings, out-dueling Astros star Dallas Keuchel.
The 24-year-old Yankees ace has now turned in two of his best performances of the season against the defending champs. He struck out 10 Astros in a complete-game, five hit shutout on May 2 in Houston.
“It gives me a lot of confidence,” Severino said of the wins over Houston. “I’ve been having confidence since last year. They are a great team, great fastball hitting team, and to be able to go [out] there and get a win for the team was very nice.
Boone praised his team’s relentlessness before the game, calling it their finest trait. And they proved it once again, erasing yet another deficit. But this comeback wasn’t nearly as dramatic as Tuesday’s walk-off win.
The Yankees trailed 2-1 in the sixth when Sanchez picked the perfect time to snap his 0-for-19 slump. With two strikes and the bases loaded, Keuchel delivered a fastball just outside the zone away. Sanchez didn’t try to do too much, he just went with the pitch, extending his arms and guiding the ball into right field away from the shift.
“I just threw the bat at it,” Sanchez said. “I got lucky, there. … I was just putting the ball in play.
The two-RBI single was enough to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead. Gleyber Torres led off the sixth inning with a double and Didi Gregorius, the next batter, chased Keuchel from the game with an RBI single. Keuchel finished with seven hits allowed, four runs and three walks over five-plus innings.
And from there, Severino and Nate Robertson got the ball to closer Aroldis Chapman, who gave up a run but picked up the save.
Early in the evening, it felt like Severino might be on the verge of doing something special. He rolled through the Astros’ lineup in the first three innings, striking out seven and needing only 36 pitches to get through the entire lineup without allowing a hit or a baserunner.
The key, he said, was getting ahead in the count, being aggressive and hitting his spots.
When Severino retired the first two batters of the fourth inning on groundouts, the crowd of 45,229 started watching every pitch as if they knew history might be brewing. But Jose Altuve broke up the perfect game with a base hit to right.
The Astros starting making contact — a 423-foot, two-run homer from Max Stassi gave them the lead in the fifth inning — but Severino never lost his composure.
He out-pitched Keuchel. The Yankees outplayed the defending champions. And while it’s only May, it felt like a message had been been delivered
Email: [email protected]
More NY Yankees news
MORE: Miguel Andujar is making all the right plays for the New York Yankees
MORE: Why the Yankees don’t seem like they’re in a hurry to call up Clint Frazier
MORE: 5 takeaways from the New York Yankees’ stunning victory against the Astros
- Luis Severino finally gets his Twins ‘revenge’
- Luis Severino carrying demon-beating confidence into ALCS
- Looking back at Yankees’ biggest Astros killers in 2019
- Most viewed YouTube videos – 10 most popular videos of all time, including Psy, Justin Bieber and Luis Fonsi ft Daddy Yankee
- Lapland tour guide killer wins appeal
- The expert guide to winning over anyone at work
- Yankees making quick work of Twins is the dynasty way
- Yanks, Astros ready to tangle
- Why the heat is on Yankees to win this World Series
- Yankees must clear mighty Astros obstacle to reach Series