After missing more than 14 months following right shoulder surgery, Houston Astros designated hitter Michael Brantley returned to the active roster this week to provide an additional quality bat to a lineup that appears to be peaking at the right time.
The Astros capped a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox, their first at Fenway Park in franchise history, with a 7-4 victory on Wednesday. Houston, set to host the New York Yankees for a three-game weekend series starting Friday, extended its winning streak to five games, a stretch that featured the Astros producing 78 hits and 52 runs. Finally healthy, the Astros look dangerous.
“I know how hard everybody works in this locker room day in and day out,” Brantley said. “I know what we can do, I know what we’re capable of; I’ve been here for a while.
“We’ve got to keep up the intensity, stay focused, and handle business on our end.”
Right-hander Justin Verlander (10-6, 3.06 ERA) is the scheduled starter for Houston on Friday. He is 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA in five starts since joining the Astros at the trade deadline, including an outing against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday when he tossed five scoreless innings and allowed two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in a 17-4 victory. It marked the second consecutive scoreless outing for Verlander, who has won each of his last four starts.
Verlander is 10-8 with a 3.21 ERA over 26 career starts against the Yankees. In his first start with the Astros this season, Verlander allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts over seven innings in a 3-1 loss at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 5.
Left-hander Carlos Rodon (1-4, 5.97) will start the series opener for the Yankees. He recorded a season-high seven strikeouts in his previous outing, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks over 4 2/3 innings while not factoring into the decision of a 7-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.
Rodon is 2-0 with a 2.39 ERA over eight career starts against the Astros. He did not factor into the decision of the Yankees’ 9-7 home loss to Houston on Aug. 6 after surrendering five runs on three hits – including two home runs — and two walks with five strikeouts over 2 2/3 innings.
The Yankees tossed aside a shot at their first four-game win streak since late May when Gleyber Torres’ throwing error in the bottom of the 10th inning resulted in a 4-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. The Yankees forced extra innings thanks to the heroics provided by rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe.
Volpe, 22, hit a game-tying, three-run, opposite-field home run with two outs in the ninth inning for his 20th homer this season. He became the first Yankees rookie to record 20-plus homers and 20-plus stolen bases in a season.
“It’s been fun watching him play the game,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Volpe. “He’s got a lot of big hits for us. He’s been really special in the field for us, and I just think that all that’s come with him and the expectations, he’s managed everything so well.”
The Yankees, mired in last place in the American League East, will lean further into their youth movement when prospects Jasson Dominguez and Austin Wells join the club in Houston. Dominguez, a 20-year-old outfielder, and Wells, a 24-year-old catcher, are poised to be recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make their major league debuts.
–Field Level Media