On a night when Justin Verlander was dealing his usual filthy stuff, the Yankees offense was stifled for eight innings—Verlander tied his career high for strikeouts with 14—and Jordan Montgomery started the game only to leave with elbow tightness after the opening frame.
This scenario, Yankee fans, is not a recipe for success in Minute Maid Park, home of the World Champion Astros.
However, Verlander gave way to Ken Giles in the ninth, who started the day with an ERA of 1.00 and ended it with an ERA of 5.23 after Gary Sanchez tattooed him for the first runs of the game with a blast over the center field wall to score Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius.
Sanchez has been coming up big for the Yankees in clutch situations, as Coley Harvey of ESPN noted:
“This was the fifth time in eight games that Sanchez had homered. It also was the third time in the past six days that he hit a game-deciding home run. Sanchez had a walk-off against the Twins last Thursday, and also launched a 447-foot, two-run blast at Angel Stadium on Sunday that proved to be all the scoring the Yankees would need in that game.”
Sanchez, who’s gotten off to a slow start this spring, is picking up the pace in the last eight games and now has eight home runs and 27 RBIs on the season.
The relief corps, Domingo German (four innings), Chad Green, Dellin Betances, David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman (one inning each) held the Astros hitters overall to six hits with one walk and 13 strikeouts in the 4-0 victory.
German came in for the ailing Montgomery in the second inning. He told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com:
"I just put on my starter mentality. I started warming up as if I was to start the game and I was just attacking hitters and trying to get ahead. I think that was the key.” – Domingo German
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) May 2, 2018
German pitched a gem, matching Justin Verlander’s effort to keep runs off the board. German pitched four scoreless innings with four hits, 1 walk and 4 strikeouts.
After the game, Boone told Mike Mazzeo of the New York Daily News that:
“You got a glimpse of what he’s capable of,” Boone said of German. “He went through them pretty easily. He was really on top of his game, and that’s what we needed.”
German may have just pitched himself into the starting rotation with his effort on Tuesday night if Jordan Montgomery is forced to miss starts because of the elbow tightness.