Verdugo, Verdugo, & More Verdugo. And Luis Gil. NY 10 Houston 3

Alex Verdugo hit a 3-run homer in the 1st off Justin Verlander, added an RBI single in the 3rd, went 3-5 overall and made a spectacular catch in left field in the 6th to power the Yanks to a 10-3 win over the Astros on a warm Tuesday night in the Bronx.

On the mound, Luis Gil was lights out, pitching a 1-hitter through 6 innings — allowing only a solo homer in the 1st — to get the win. Gil is now 3-1 2.92 and the only question is how on earth do you take him out of the starting rotation when Gerrit Cole returns?

Other Yanks did good too:

  • Anthony Volpe got a homer in the 4th (and seconds later the NY Rangers scored to tie their playoff game 2-2 against the Carolina Hurricanes) and drove in a run on a groundout in the 7th (and seconds later the Rangers scored to tie their game 3-3).
  • Giancarlo Stanton ripped a missile of a homer,
  • Juan Soto went 3-4.
  • Aaron Judge went 1-3 with 2 walks.
  • Ron Marinaccio pitched 2 shutout innings.

And the Yankees moved back into a virtual tie with Baltimore for 1st place, as the Orioles lost.

“Obviously big swing in the 1st to get us going — 3-run homer,” said manager Aaron Boone afterwards about Verdugo. “Tacking on another, and some really exceptional plays in left field too — plays that, in a lopsided game like that, you think if a couple of those plays aren’t made it could change the course of the game. Just a really great all around game by him.”

“It’s been outstanding,” added Boone about Verdugo’s season in NY. “The guys love him in there; I think he loves it. And we’re seeing the kind of player he is on both sides of the ball. He’s been a spark, he’s been excellent, he’s been clutch. And there’s no doubt he brings a little edge with him to the park every day.”

NY improves to 24-13; Houston drops to 12-23.

1. Verdugo 3-Run Bomb in 1st

Things aren’t going well for Houston so far this year. John Snyder pointed out that their ace reliever Josh Hader, who they signed during the off season to a 5-year, $19 M a year contract, is 1-3 6.14. Starters Hunter Brown (0-4 8.89) and J.P. France (0-3 7.46) are off to horrible starts. And in this game, Justin Verlander looked old.

Verlander didn’t look old coming in — sporting a 1-0 2.08 slash line. But the Yanks made him look old scoring 7 runs on 8 hits and sending him to the showers after 5 innings.

The Yanks started the scoring on Verlander in the bottom of the 1st when with 1 out, Juan Soto singled, Aaron Judge walked, and lefty batter Alex Verdugo hit a 3-run bomb to right for a 3-1 Yankee lead.

2. Verdugo Makes it 4-1 in 3rd

Verlander pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 2nd, but in the 3rd — it was those Yankee lefty bats again — Juan Soto leading off with a single, Aaron Judge working a walk, and Verdugo lining a single to center for a 4-1 Yankee lead.

“I looked at Dugie when we got him as someone I could envision anywhere in the order,” said manager Aaron Boone afterwards about Verdugo. “I could see him leading off. I could see him hitting right in the middle — 3rd, 4th, 5th.”

3. Volpe HR

In the 4th, Jose Trevino led off with a single and Anthony Volpe rocked a 93-MPH fastball from Verlander into the short porch in right for a 6-1 Yankee lead.

Seconds after the Volpe RBI the NY Rangers scored to tie their important Game 2 playoff game against the Carolina Hurricanes, 2-2.

4. Stanton HR

Giancarlo Stanton leading off the 5th hit the first pitch to him from Verlander — an 86-MPH slider — for a MISSILE to left center — a 421-foot homer — and it was 7-1 Yankees.

5. Gil Great

Meanwhile 26-year-old Luis Gil was lights out, allowing only 1 hit — a solo HR to Kyle Tucker in the 1st inning — and working easily around 4 walks.

Gil allowed a 1-out walk in the 2nd but got the next two outs — one a line drive to left that Verdugo made a nice catch on, running in, for the 2nd out. Gil walked 2 batters with 2 outs in the 3rd, but struck out Alex Bregman to end the inning.

He pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 4th and 5th. In the 6th with NY up 7-1, Gil allowed a 1-out walk, but got the next 2 batters on lineouts — the second an excellent play by Verdugo (see below) to end his night at 97 pitches. He struck out 5.

According to Brendan Kuty, Anthony Volpe said he thought the reactions from Houston Astro hitters to Luis Gil’s stuff stood out most to him. “It’s like the fastball is 110 mph. It’s like the hardest fastball they’ve seen.”

6. Verdugo Great Catch in the Field

Alex Verdugo helped Gil out with a spectacular catch to end the 6th.

7. Marinaccio Good

More good news for the Yanks: Ron Marinaccio is good again.

After struggling with control issues at the end of last season that caused NY to send him back down to the minors, NY had faith and helped Marinaccio make adjustments and he is back to being a reliable reliever again.

In this game he:

  • Allowed a single to the first batter he faced in the 7th, but got a double play grounder and another grounder to end the inning, then
  • Allowed a leadoff single in the 8th, but got 3 straight outs (fly out, ground out, line out) to end it. NY was up 10-1 at the time so most of NY didn’t notice — as many were watching the NY Ranger-Carolina Hurricane playoff game that NY won in double overtime.

8. Yanks Pour It On

Jon Berti led off the 6th with a single, went to 2nd on a groundout, went to 3rd on a groundout, and scored on an Aaron Judge single and it was 8-1 NY.

In the 7th, Giancarlo Stanton walked, Anthony Rizzo singled, and Jose Trevino was hit by a pitch to load the bases with 1 out.

Jon Berti singled in a run and Anthony Volpe drove in a run with a fielder’s choice groundout and it was 10-1 NY. Seconds after the Volpe RBI the NY Rangers scored to tie their playoff game 3-3.

Volpe & the NY Rangers — Postscript

Volpe almost came up again in the bottom of the 8th, when the Yankees loaded the bases with 1 out — and the NY Rangers needed him to, as they were deadlocked 3-3 with the Hurricanes near the end of regulation in their important Game 2 matchup. The Yanks needed 2 more baserunners to bring Volpe up again, but Jose Trevino hit into a DP to end the inning. The Rangers were on their own — and scored in double OT to win, 4-3.

9. Tonkin Wraps Up

Michael Tonkin pitched the 9th, and got the first 2 outs, before a single, error by Berti that put runners to 2nd and 3rd, and single by Trey Cabbage made it 10-3. But Tonkin got Jake Meyers on a groundout for the old ballgame.

The Boxscore

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