Division leaders meet as Astros visit Yankees

Field Level Media

The New York Yankees enjoyed a milestone win for CC Sabathia and a sweep over their closest pursuer in the American League East on Wednesday.

Now the focus is on a four-game series against the AL West-leading Houston Astros, who are coming off a rare rough patch but swept the Yankees in April.

The Yankees put their five-game winning streak on the line Thursday night when they host the Astros in the opener of a four-game series.

"It's huge, especially (facing) Houston this weekend," Yankees first baseman Luke Voit told reporters following Wednesday's 12-1 win to complete the sweep of Tampa Bay. "That's one of the powerhouses in the American League. I'm excited to face those guys again after getting swept by them in Houston earlier in the year."

Following their 32-10 stretch from April 16-June 1, the Yankees lost eight of their next 11 games. After their first rough patch since the opening weeks of the season, the Yankees have scored 39 runs in their past five games, and they head into the weekend after extending their homer streak to 22 games on Wednesday in beating the second-place Tampa Bay Rays.

"We hit a rough patch there for 10 days or so," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "To come out of that playing well, I feel like we've played really well.

Sabathia pitched six innings for his 250th win, Gary Sanchez hit his 21st homer and Gleyber Torres bashed his first career grand slam. Those homers put the Yankees within three of the team record set from June 1-29, 1941.

Houston, meanwhile, has scored just seven runs during a four-game losing streak. The Astros lost three one-run games when they were swept in a trip to Cincinnati, sustaining their first road sweep since September 2017. Roberto Osuna allowed two runs in the ninth inning of a 3-2 loss to the Reds on Wednesday afternoon.

The Astros were held to 20 hits in the three-game series, and Michael Brantley produced seven of them. Brantley collected his major-league-leading 31st multi-hit game on Wednesday. Houston also welcomed back Jose Altuve on Wednesday, and he was 0-for-4 after missing 35 games with a hamstring injury.

"If you do enough things wrong or don't do enough, you're going to lose at this level, and we did a lot of both," Astros manager AJ Hinch said after the defeat. "Today's game was very winnable. I've said that a couple of times in a row now, so very disappointing, yeah."

The Astros are on their longest losing streak since dropping five straight from Aug. 9-14, 2018.

On Thursday, Framber Valdez (3-2, 2.77 ERA) will make his third start of the season for Houston. He owns a 2.08 ERA covering 13 innings as a starting pitcher. The left-hander last pitched on Saturday in a 7-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays when he allowed two runs four hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out eight.

The Yankees are expected to use Chad Green (1-2, 7.54 ERA) as the opener for the sixth time. Green, who owns a 3.52 ERA in the opener role, last pitched on Saturday in an 8-4 win over the Chicago White Sox. The right-hander allowed one hit and struck out six in two scoreless innings before Nestor Cortes Jr. pitched the next five innings.

Green is 0-1 with a 4.32 ERA in five career appearances against the Astros, all in relief. Valdez will be opposing the Yankees for the first time.

--Field Level Media

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