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May 6, 2024 7:24 pm

Yankees on a roll entering series with struggling Astros

juan soto

The New York Yankees have reached 10 games above .500 for the first time just 36 games into the season, one indicator of how strongly they’ve started 2024.

Now the Yankees attempt to win their fourth straight game when they host the Houston Astros on Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series.

The Yankees are 23-13 after finishing a three-game home sweep of the Detroit Tigers over the weekend. They returned to Yankee Stadium after dropping three of four to the Baltimore Orioles, earned three close victories over Detroit and finished the series with Sunday’s 5-2 win.

Juan Soto keyed New York’s latest win by hitting a bases-clearing double in the seventh inning to snap a 2-2 tie. Soto’s hit came after Aaron Judge hit his seventh homer of the season in the first inning, and the Yankees played their 27th game decided by three runs or fewer before enjoying their first off day since April 18.

“Wins are precious in this league,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Sunday. “It’s really good to shake hands three times into an off day. It does a lot for the soul.”

Soto’s bat is doing a lot for Boone’s soul and the Yankees’ strong start. His latest hit left him a .316 average with eight homers and 28 RBIs and an even better .440 mark with 22 RBIs with runners in scoring position.

“I think I just like the big moments,” Soto said. “I just like to be up there, and it just gives me a little bit of adrenaline.”

Soto produced a few big moments in New York’s season-opening four-game sweep at Houston, when he went 9-for-17, and his showing helped the Yankees run their winning streak over the Astros to seven games.

Houston’s four losses to the Yankees might have set the tone for the team’s rough start. Last season, the Astros were 17-17 through their first 34 games on their way to their third straight American League West title. But this season, the Astros are off to a 12-22 start.

The Astros are 5-3 in their past eight games since losing 19 of their first 26. But they were unable to win a third straight series when Josh Hader allowed a go-ahead homer to Cal Raleigh in the ninth inning of Sunday’s 5-4 loss to the visiting Seattle Mariners.

Kyle Tucker hit his ninth homer and Jose Altuve had two hits to raise his average to .343, but the Astros continued to struggle in close games, falling to 1-9 in one-run games. Hader’s rough outing marked the team’s eighth blown save.

“We’ve got a tough team coming up, but these guys are all fighters in this room,” Hader said. “We’re going to show up and play good baseball.”

Justin Verlander (1-0, 2.08 ERA) makes his fourth start since returning from a shoulder injury. He’s allowed two runs or fewer in each outing since coming back, including two runs on six hits in seven innings against Cleveland on Wednesday for his second straight no-decision.

Verlander is 10-9 with a 3.41 ERA in 27 regular-season starts against the Yankees, though he was 0-2 with a 5.54 ERA in two starts against them last year after Houston acquired him from the New York Mets.

The Yankees’ Luis Gil (2-1, 3.19) opens the series with his first career start against Houston. Gil picked up his third career win Wednesday when he allowed two hits in a career-best 6 1/3 innings in a 2-0 win at Baltimore.

–Field Level Media

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