In an emotional week, Yankees pull together for a satisfying win over Astros

NEW YORK – It had been 284 days since the Houston Astros were last at Yankee Stadium, celebrating their latest American League championship.

As you might recall, it was a four-game sweep by the eventual 2022 world champs.

And then, as now, the Yankees were a team in need of better construction to make it through October and up the Canyon of Heroes in a tickertape parade.

Small victories will suffice now, and the Yankees’ 4-3 win Thursday night against Houston qualified as a hopeful moment in a rough week.

“A lot of people like to see us lose, and our fans like to see us win, obviously,’’ said Giancarlo Stanton, after belting a go-ahead homer for a second straight night, both Yankee wins.

“We’ve just got to minimize the outside noise and distractions and things that happen and focus on each night…trying to find a way to win.’’

And yet, these days the noise and distractions are coming from inside the house.

An odd Yankees week

After the players’ first inning roll call, the “Fire Cashman’’ chants start, though not at the venom level of Jose Altuve’s plate appearances.

'It feels weird': Justin Verlander happy to be back with Astros, no matter how unexpected

But the anti-Brian Cashman crowd has grown louder since Tuesday’s MLB trade deadline passed without a significant player upgrade to bolster what is now a run for any wild card spot.

Once the deadline passed, the Yankees dealt with an in-house crisis, with pitcher Domingo German’s erratic behavior during a clubhouse incident causing him to enter an alcohol treatment program.

Wednesday’s win against the Rays occurred without their struggling, veteran first baseman in the lineup.

On Thursday, it was revealed that Anthony Rizzo has been dealing with post-concussion effects – since May 28.

“It could always be worse,’’ Stanton said of the Yankees situation in the standings. “We’re in a spot to still be effective, still do damage.

“We’ve got plenty of time, so, this is day by day – you can’t look three weeks ahead, you can’t look ‘til next week. Just be productive that day.’’

Yankees collective effort

Stanton's words were put into effect Thursday, before 44,019 fans who were more entertained than agitated for a change.

Billy McKinney followed Stantons' two-run shot, making it back-to-back first inning homers off Cristian Javier.

Yanks starter Clarke Schmidt was good over five innings, and the Yanks (57-52) had an answer to the Astros (62-48) when Kyle Tucker drove a game-tying homer in the sixth off Wandy Peralta.

It was the first homer the Yanks' lefty reliever had yielded to a lefty hitter this season.

But in the bottom of the sixth, Harrison Bader walked with two out, stole second base and scored on Anthony Volpe's go-ahead single off Kendall Graveman.

Relievers Michael King, Tommy Kahnle and Clay Holmes held the lead, and Holmes survived the game's last dramatic moment - retiring Altuve on a game-ending grounder with runners at first and second.

Given the Yanks' current condition, still at the bottom of the AL East but in wild card striking distance, Schmidt agreed with the premise of playing with a daily everything-on-the-line mentality.

"We like playing with that energy, that chip on our shoulder,'' said Schmidt, a feeling heightened by the Astros' premise.

The Yanks took the first of a four-game set on Thursday night. At least, it's a start.

This article originally appeared on Yankees defeat Astros on homers by Giancarlo Stanton and Billy McKinney