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May 9, 2024 2:45 am

Yankees look to take down Astros for 10th straight time

Ronel Blanco

About three hours before Yankees right fielder Juan Soto saw his first pitch against the Houston Astros on Wednesday, New York manager Aaron Boone described his slugger’s at-bats by saying: “It’s a show. You can feel the energy of the crowd, literally every pitch it’s theater.”

Then Boone watched Soto go deep and also witnessed homers by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, marking the first time the powerful trio connected in the same game.

After the big power display led to a 9-4 win, the Yankees can run their winning streak to six games when they conclude a three-game set against the Astros on Thursday.

The Yankees dropped three of four games at Baltimore last week, scoring a total of six runs in the series. Since returning home for a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees have scored 31 runs in five games while equaling their longest winning streak of the season. Their previous five-game run began with a four-game sweep at Houston to open the campaign.

In the Wednesday win, Soto started his fifth three-hit game of the season by hitting a 440-foot homer off an advertisement in the back of Houston’s bullpen in left-center field. He wound up with three hits and five RBIs, and his average climbed to .338.

“I feel like when I’m hitting the ball that way and I’m in my best path and my swing is in the best spot, (that) is everything that I’ve been asking for with all my practices and everything,” Soto said.

Judge heads into Thursday with a .236 average, though he is 9-for-18 in New York’s winning streak. Besides homering on Wednesday, he added a pair of doubles and drove in three runs.

Stanton has homered in both games of the series. He hit a 447-foot shot at 119.9 mph on Wednesday, the hardest-hit ball in the majors this season.

“We all know how capable we are, and when you (have) nights like that, it’s great,” Soto said.

Kyle Tucker homered for the third straight game and Jeremy Pena also connected, but the Astros wound up with their fourth straight loss despite totaling 11 hits.

Houston is 0-6 against the Yankees this season because of an inability to get Soto out. Soto is batting .577 (15-for-26) vs. the Astros this season. Houston is on a nine-game losing streak against the Yankees and the Astros are 2-11 in the past 13 meetings since sweeping New York in the 2022 ALCS.

“He’s always been hard (to face),” Astros manager Joe Espada said of Soto. “It doesn’t matter who’s pitching. Juan Soto is a great hitter.”

Ronel Blanco (3-0, 2.09 ERA), who has emerged as Houston’s ace after entering the season as the fifth starter, attempts to produce another quality start when he faces the Yankees for the first time on Thursday. The Astros are 5-1 in his starts. Blanco got a no-decision Friday against the Seattle Mariners when he allowed three runs on five hits in six innings.

Marcus Stroman (2-1, 3.41 ERA) hopes to find better command of the strike zone against the Astros. Stroman issued five walks for the second straight outing on Friday. He wound up with a no-decision after allowing one run on three hits in 5 1/3 innings in a game the Yankees won in the ninth inning against Detroit.

Stroman gave up three runs, all unearned, on four hits in six innings on March 30 at Houston during his first win as a Yankee. The right-hander is 3-1 with a 2.50 ERA in six career starts against the Astros.

–Field Level Media

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