HOUSTON — The Houston Astros opened the second half of the season by sweeping the New York Yankees with two heads on Thursday to move closer to the rankings than the team with the best record in baseball.
Jordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman joined five RBI players as the Astros completed the sweep with a 7-5 win in Game 2.
Houston won the season series against New York, 5-2, with only the Yankees leading in all games. They finished the season with .151 teams fighting an average against the Astros, their lowest level in a season against a single opponent ever, according to ESPN stats and information.
Yankees coach Aaron Boone seemed annoyed with a question he weighed against this season’s results against the Astros and their struggles against them in the playoffs last year.
“I understand it’s a big story,” he said. “I understand what season we’re in. It won’t matter unless (it’s) October. If we happen to come back here in October we’ll be there. Expect to win. We think we’re really good. It’s really good. Don’t overdo it.”
Yankees 64-30. Houston is 61-32.
“You want to get off to a good start, and I think everyone came ready to play,” Bregman said. “That’s what we expect from this football club every night…and hopefully we can continue that into the second half.”
RBI rookie JJ Matijevic lifted a two-stroke ninth-stroke knockout for the Astros to win 3-2 in the day and night double header’s opener.
“It’s huge for us to start the game 2-0, to bring our lead back to double digits,” Houston coach Dusty Baker said of his team’s lead over the Mariners at Al West.
Aaron Judge hit his MLB-leading 34th home with a three-stroke shot from Brandon Bellack into the train tracks over left field to cut the difference to 7-5 with one ninth-place win in Game 2.
Rafael Monteiro, who netted a turn in the first half, took charge and was greeted by Jleber Torres with a single. But Matt Carpenter got into a double game to end the match and gave Montero his seventh in the save.
Alvarez, who returned from the injured list Thursday, blasted the 27th homeowner into the seats in left field by two points in the first half to give Houston an early lead. The Astros bounced back when Domingo Germain’s Bergmann (0-1) arrived four courts later to make it 2-0.
“The guy didn’t swing a racket against the live throw and hit it on his first hit, he’s pretty cool,” Becker said. “And Bergman is heating up.”
There were the second- and third-place racers with two wins in the second when Alvarez doubled down on the wall in the left-of-center to score two more goals and extend the lead to 4-0. Bregman preferred the left to bring Alvarez home and make it 5-0.
The judge walked with one on the third before the Yankees cut the lead to three at home from Torres.
The double header was scheduled to come out of the All-Star break to help make up a series that was postponed due to the shutdown. Houston won the first game in the series on June 30.
“It’s definitely going to be seen playing with each other,” said Giancarlo Stanton of New York. “But at the end of the day, we have to stay ahead for (the advantage) at home.”
Germain allowed six strokes and five runs in three rounds in his first season after missing the first half of the season with a shoulder injury.
Houston player Luis Garcia (8-5) scored three hits and two cuts in five games to score his fifth consecutive win after losing his previous four decisions.
In the first match, Bergman took Houston ninth by one against Michael King (6-3). Bergman advanced to third on the Aledmys Díaz double. After hitting Yuli Gurriel, the hitter Alvarez was purposely walked over to load the bases.
King looked like he might be able to escape the crowd after hitting McCormick, but Matjeewicz drove into Bergman with a single.
“The Bulls did a fantastic job, and that was an exciting win for us, the fans, and Janey J,” Becker said. “I was so happy for JJ”
The Astros took a 2-1 lead in the ninth game. But Aaron Hicks snatched up against Hector Neres (3-3) and scored in Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s hit twice, a game that rolled in front of shortstop Jeremy Peña to equalize.
DJ LeMahieu finished fifth, but the Yankees were 1 for 8 with the runners in the scoring position.
Jordan Montgomery hit a season high with eight strokes in 6 and 2/3 runs. He allowed seven hits and walked one.
Christian Javier scored a season high by issuing four walking runs while allowing one run and two hits in five runs. It was Javier’s first start against the Yankees since he played seven rounds in a combined no-batting match in New York on June 25. Neres and Ryan Presley finished the historic gem.
This was the third double cape of the domed Minute Maid Park, which opened in 2000.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.