It was warm as the sun set over Yankee Stadium. The sound of 10,850 pissed-off Yankee fans rocked the Bronx ballpark. At 7:07 PM, the first pitch would be thrown out by Yankees Starter Domingo German. But this game was much more than a normal ballgame. Everyone in the stadium knew it, from the fans in the third deck, to Giancarlo Stanton and the Yankees, to Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros. This was a game of revenge.
It’s a fair point to say that the Houston Astros wronged the entire MLB with their sign-stealing scheme that contributed to their franchise’s only World Series title in 2017. It’s also a fair point that the Yankees were wronged more so than the rest of the MLB, as they were eliminated at the hands of Houston twice as their cheating was ongoing. Yankee players were angry, but more importantly, Yankee fans were angry. And they weren’t afraid to show it.
Leading off for the Astros was 2B Jose Altuve, one of the main culprits behind Houston’s cheating scheme. As Yankee Stadium announcer Paul Olden read Altuve’s name to the crowd, he was met with boos that sounded as if 100,000 were in the Stadium, not the 10,850 that was allowed in. Chants of “F*ck Altuve” rang throughout the crowd, as German threw out the first pitch. German would get Altuve to pop out, and retire the second batter for the Astros, Michael Brantley. Astros 3B Alex Bregman was due up, as the third batter of the inning, and he too was met with the boos of the Yankee crowd. Much to the disappointment of the crowd, these boos didn’t shake Bregman, and he took German deep for the first run of the game, a HR down the third base line. He was booed as he rounded the bases, but he didn’t care. The Astros led 1-0.
After German retired the last Astro in the 1st Inning, DJ LeMahieu would lead off against Astros’ Starter Zach Greinke. Despite the score being in favor of the Astros early in the game, Yankee Stadium was electric for LeMahieu, who ended up getting on base to bring Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton up. Stanton work his way into a 2-0 count, Greinke couldn’t find his spot early on. The 2-0 pitch is thrown out. BANG. Stanton’s bat met the ball, making a sound similar to what could be heard from the trash can in the Houston dugout. Stanton’s 7th HR of the season would land in the stands of erupted Yankee Stadium, scoring LeMahieu and himself to give the Yanks a 2-1 lead. The Yankees would tack on one more run before the end of the inning, giving the Yankees a 3-1 lead.
It would remain a 3-1 lead until the Top of the 4th Inning when the Astros bit back at the Yankees with a Michael Brantley HR crushed into the second deck, and a Lordes Gurriel double tied the game up at 3 a piece. It was a brand new game. The fans knew it, as the crowd began to taper down some. Sure, there was still hecklers yelling at Altuve, Bregman and Correa as they were in the field, but gone were the chants of “F*ck the Astros” and “F*ck Altuve”. That is, until the 6th Inning.
It was one out for Lucas Lutege, who entered the game at the beginning of the 6th Inning, Bregman on first in a tie game, with Yordan Alvarez at the plate. A double play was in order and needed for the Yanks, and they got just that with a hard hit grounder up the middle. Would they be able to turn it? The Stadium got on their feet as Yankees shortstop dove for the ball. With dirt on his jersey, he flipped it to Rougned Odor at 2nd. There’s one! The crowd cheered as Odor whipped it to DJ Lemahieu at first for the double play, beating out Alex Bregman for the third out of the Inning. Yankee Stadium was excited, the middle of the order would be up in the bottom of the 6th, with Gleyber Torres leading off the inning. Torres would start off the Yank’s 6th Inning Rally with a walk. After Clint Frazier popped out, Hicks would get a hit, and Higashioka would ground out for the second out, but move Hicks and Torres to 2nd and 3rd. With two runners in scoring position, the Yankees were in a prime position to reacquire the lead but had little margin for error with 2 outs in the inning. Odor would be the next batter, and would walk to load the bases up for Yankees 1B DJ LeMahieu. He battled as the 10,580 fans at Yankee Stadium roared. Finally, he found a pitch to make contact with, though rather weak as it dribbled fair down the third base line to Bregman. It would be a tough play, and the entire Stadium knew it. As he attempted to bare hand the ball and throw it to first in order to beat out the Yankees first-baseman. As LeMahieu touched the bag, the fans exploded, as Yankees catcher told the media the next day, “if we had 100 percent capacity, I might not have my hearing today.”
As LeMahieu’s foot touched the first-base bag, Torres scored, but the throw from Bregman was still in the air, and was soon past the Astros first-baseman. Higashioka would round third base, and Odor was on his way to score as well while the Astros fielders ran after the thrown away ball. Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka would score with ease, but it would be a tough play for Odor at the plate. The throw…
As Odor ran hard to home plate to score the Yankees third run of the inning, Astros catcher set up to make the catch and tag at home plate. Odor leaped above the bat still remaining from LeMahieu at bat, beating out the tag, but also taking himself and the Astros catcher Martin Maldonado out. Ruled safe, Yankee Stadium once again exploded. It was 6-3. But quickly, it turned from joy to concern, as both Odor and Maldonado lay on the field, being attended to by their respective training staffs, the Yankee fans were classy despite all their contempt for the Astros. Nobody wanted to see anyone get hurt, much less a player who had nothing to do with the cheating that had occurred. Both Odor and Maldonado received ovations as they were helped off the field, and the focus shifted back to the matter at hand.
“F*ck the Astros bah dah dah dah dah F*ck the Astros bah dah dah dah dah” rung throughout the 20% capacity crowd throughout the rest of the game, which ended 7-3 in the Yankees favor. This game reinforced many of the narratives we have seen from the Yankees up to this point this season: A dominant bullpen (0 runs allowed in 4 innings), Giancarlo Stanton continuing his dominance (4-5 with a HR and double), and the starting pitching not getting enough innings (though it didn’t hurt the Yanks in this game). But, this game was much more than just a score in a long season. This was a statement by the Yankees team and players, and a statement by the fans. As DJ LeMahieu said in his post game interview, “I don’t think people will turn the page on that anytime soon.” This should be a rude awakening to the Houston Astros players, coaches, and organization that this will forever be a stain on the player’s legacy, and more importantly the team’s legacy.