Yankees tee off on Justin Verlander, improve to 5-0 vs. struggling Astros

NEW YORK — With the Yankees and Astros beginning a three-game series in the Bronx on Tuesday, manager Aaron Boone fielded a series of questions concerning Houston’s long run of dominance and abysmal start to the 2024 season.

The Astros have haunted the Yankees for years, but the Bombers won the first four games of the season at Minute Maid Park. Things haven’t gotten better for Houston since, as the Yankees’ nemesis entered Tuesday’s opener with a 12-22, fourth-place record.

“You don’t expect to see them in the standings where they are,” Boone said before the game, “but it’s baseball, too. It’s a stretch. So you still expect them to get it going at some point. Hopefully, we can push that off a few days.”

The Yankees accomplished that goal on Tuesday, hanging seven runs on Justin Verlander in a 10-3 win. The Yankees had never scored that many runs off Verlander before, but homers doomed the future Hall of Famer from the jump.

Alex Verdugo started the scoring for the Bombers, drilling a three-run homer over the right-field fence in the first inning. The cleanup hitter took a long look at the dinger before nonchalantly flipping his bat and enjoying a 29.6-second trot around the bases.

Verdugo, who also made a few nice plays in left field, added an RBI single in the third inning.

The Yankees left the yard again in the fourth when Anthony Volpe connected against Verlander. The shortstop, hitting .163 over his previous 20 games, had made some solid contact earlier in the night but had only produced loud outs prior to the two-run jack.

Then came Giancarlo Stanton’s rocket in the fifth. With a 118.8-mph frozen rope to left, the slugger recorded the hardest-hit homer of the major league season.

That was the last run Verlander allowed, but Aaron Judge picked up an RBI single in the sixth inning. Jon Berti did the same in the seventh before Volpe pushed a 10th run across on a fielder’s choice.

While Verlander, typically a Yankee killer, hardly looked intimidating, Tuesday marked the second start in a row that Luis Gil outpitched a Cy Young winner.

After dueling with Baltimore’s Corbin Burnes his last time out, Gil kept the Astros to one run over six innings and 97 pitches. The fireballer’s command problems returned — Gil walked four — but he also struck out five while holding Houston to one hit, a first-inning, second-deck homer off Kyle Tucker’s bat.

The Astros scored two more runs in the ninth following a Berti throwing error and a Trey Cabbage single.

The Yankees are now 5-0 against the Astros this season. They will try to improve that mark on Wednesday when Carlos Rodón takes the mound.

The lefty is looking to rebound from his worst start of the season, as the Orioles tagged Rodón for six earned runs on May 2.

Spencer Arrighetti will start for the Astros. The right-hander has an 8.27 ERA this season.