Yankees open their season with a come-from-behind 5-4 win over Astros

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Day comes with new opportunities, everyone’s stats are reset to zero, and the Yankees were aiming to get a season-opening win over the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Houston has been a house of horrors for the Yankees, who have had two of their seasons come to a painful end there in the ALCS, most notably a walk-off home run at the hands of Jose Altuve. With Nestor Cortes on the mound for the Bronx Bombers, he would face an ever-formidable Astros lineup, a team hungry to avenge their ALCS loss to their in-state rivals.

In a game that seemed to swing on a dime in the Yankees’ favor, they would storm back from down 4-0 to take the lead, winning by the skin of their teeth and starting their season 1-0.

Juan Soto Makes Statement Debut in Yankees’ 5-4 Win

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The game would start on an ominous note for the Yankees, as the Houston Astros would put up a three-spot, effectively a punch in the mouth for Nestor Cortes. A Jake Meyers home run in the second put the morale at a low for the game, and with multiple RBI opportunities in the second and fourth innings, the Yankees would come up short and bail out Framber Valdez with double plays time after time.

It felt as if this would be another mind-numbing loss at the hands of poor starting pitching and some bad decisions with runners in scoring position, but this team showed their resilience in a ballpark where we’ve become used to ineptitude and failure.

Instead of rolling over, Nestor Cortes would fire three scoreless frames in a row, finishing his day with five innings pitched and four earned runs, striking out five batters in the process. It was a grind, but for his first start of the year, it’s not a bad job at all considering how poor of a start he got off to.

The Yankees weren’t going to let his efforts go to waste however, as they finally broke through against Framber Valdez and his nasty sinker with an RBI single off the bat of Juan Soto. In a poetic sense, his first hit with the Yankees was in a situation where they would have had to call upon a much lesser hitter last season, and the team’s plate discipline helped as well.

READ MORE: Yankees make flurry of injury moves ahead of Opening Day

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros
Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Among their nine walks on the afternoon was an RBI walk from Anthony Volpe, as he recorded three of them on the day against some very tough pitchers. Anthony Rizzo would take one for the team as well with a hit-by-pitch, but Alex Verdugo would ground out to end the fifth with the Yankees still down a run. Oswaldo Cabrera would quickly erase that deficit with a solo blast to right field, as the emergency infielder went 2-4 and was crucial in their comeback victory.

The Yankees would call upon Jonathan Loaisiga in the sixth, and he’d fire a scoreless inning to keep momentum on their side when a new face would emerge as a hero.

It wasn’t a pretty debut for Alex Verdugo at first, who had two inning-ending groundouts including a bases-loaded double play, but he’d punch a flyball to left field with bases loaded to give the Yankees their fifth and final run.

It would be the game-winning RBI, and he’d double that up with a great running catch in left field to steal a hit away from Kyle Tucker, stamping a strong debut for the left-handed outfielder. The bullpen was also heroic today, with Jonathan Loaisiga, Ian Hamilton, and Clay Holmes firing four scoreless frames.

The final inning wouldn’t be for the faint-hearted, as Clay Holmes surrendered two singles that would set Kyle Tucker up for a chance to win it in walk-off fashion. Driving a ball between first and second, it looked like the Astros would get their wish, but Juan Soto would fire a strike to home plate and Jose Trevino would just get the tag in for an unbelievable outfield assist to preserve the lead.

Alex Bregman would roll over a lazy grounder to Anthony Volpe, and the Yankees would collect their first win of the 2024 season in dramatic fashion; a game that highlights the resilience and grit that this team hopes to show all year. They’ll continue this four-game set in Houston tomorrow night, as Carlos Rodon will take the ball at 8:10 PM EST to try and keep the Yankees in the win column.

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