Yankees ride Anthony Volpe’s brilliance to secure the cherished win over Astros

Anthony Volpe shows all-round performance in the Yankees win 4-3 over the Astros on August 3, 2023, at Yankee Stadium.

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Yankees fans have long treasured a victory against the Astros, who have emerged as their formidable rivals in the ALCS over the past two seasons. Anthony Volpe’s clutch two-out hit in the sixth inning brought this cherished dream to fruition. The young rookie’s performance propelled the Yankees towards a much-needed triumph, breaking the tie, and igniting hope while dispelling the distractions that had plagued them during a turbulent week.

Thursday night witnessed a thrilling showdown as the Yankees secured a hard-fought 4-3 victory over the Astros in the first game of their four-game series. Both teams are fierce rivals and part of the competitive AL wild-card race. In the pivotal moment, with the game deadlocked at 3-3, Anthony Volpe’s impressive two-out hit in the sixth brought Harrison Bader home from second, propelling the Yankees back into the lead. The Yankees’ bullpen then held their ground, ensuring the lead remained intact until the final out.

The Volpe factor

AP

When the Yankees and Astros last faced off on this very field, Anthony Volpe was still filled with aspirations of making it big in the league, observing the American League Championship Series from a distance. However, as he took his position on Thursday evening, the determined rookie shortstop had already made up his mind to carve his path as a legend for the Yankees and a relentless adversary for the Astros.

Anthony Volpe, who was experiencing his first taste of the feud, mentioned that the fans were definitely in his mind.

“The fans were definitely into it,” Anthony Volpe told. “There was an awesome, great atmosphere, and we definitely fed off it.”

Anthony Volpe’s hit played a pivotal role and helped lead his team to a 4-3 triumph over Houston at Yankee Stadium. He later mentioned that, as a team, going through this experience brought everyone closer. The Yankees shortstop expressed that they felt responsible for taking action, believing that they were the ones who could make a difference. According to him, the Yankees were really sticking together and had a strong belief in their ability to achieve something significant. He added that, in the long run, this challenging phase would undoubtedly benefit them.

Anthony Volpe’s hit in the sixth inning was a result of a Kendall Graveman sinker, which he expertly directed into right field, allowing Harrison Bader to score from second base, giving the team the much-needed go-ahead run. The Yankees’ bullpen maintained that lead, with Michael King securing five outs, followed by Tommy Kahnle and Clay Holmes, who each contributed three outs, respectively.

Despite all the swirling distractions surrounding the team, Thursday’s victory positioned the Yankees just 2 1/2 games behind in the pursuit of the third American League Wild Card spot.

Giancarlo Stanton remarked that the situation could always be worse. He emphasized that despite the challenges, they were still in a position to be effective and make an impact. Stanton stressed the importance of taking things day by day and not looking too far ahead and encouraged the Yankees to focus on being productive each day without getting caught up in thinking about the next few weeks or the following week.

In the first inning, Stanton and Billy McKinney connected with back-to-back home runs off Cristian Javier, who had a history of success against the Yankees, including being part of a combined no-hitter in the Bronx last June.

However, the right-hander has been slightly off his game lately, without a win since June 3, and the Yankees took full advantage. Stanton’s enormous two-run blast came off the bat at an impressive 114.1 mph, sailing a projected 430 feet over the left-field bullpen, according to Statcast. This remarkable shot marked his 16th home run of the year and his second in as many consecutive nights.

Stanton mentioned that he had been experiencing both good and not-so-good at-bats. He pointed out that it was a bit of a back-and-forth situation for him. The primary goal, according to him, was to stay productive and contribute to the team’s victories each night. Stanton acknowledged that while he might have a couple of bad at-bats, he hoped there wouldn’t be any runners on base during those instances.

Following Stanton’s home run, McKinney stepped up and hit a 401-foot shot to the second deck in right field, marking his sixth homer of the year. Yankees manager Aaron Boone described his team’s at-bats in the last two nights as “heavier” and “tougher.”

Boone conveyed that the team’s aim was to make the opposing players feel the intensity of the at-bats. He explained that whether the pitching staff succeeds in holding them off or the Yankees manage to get to them, they want the opposing team to experience the weight of the challenge during the game. Boone expressed satisfaction in seeing their progress in creating a more arduous and demanding atmosphere for their opponents.

The homers provided crucial support for New York starter Clarke Schmidt, who effectively held Houston to only two runs and four hits during his five innings on the mound. Over his last nine starts, Schmidt boasts an impressive record of 5-0 with a 3.61 ERA (19 ER / 47 1/3 IP).

In the top of the sixth, Wandy Peralta yielded a game-tying home run to Kyle Tucker, marking the first extra-base hit he has allowed to a left-handed batter throughout the season.

In the seventh inning, Houston posed a threat against King, but he managed to induce Jeremy Pena into hitting an inning-ending double play. The Yankees’ bullpen remains a strong asset for the team, as their relievers have only allowed three earned runs in their last 29 2/3 innings, resulting in an outstanding 0.92 ERA.

Anthony Volpe remarked that the atmosphere was fantastic, and they certainly fed off it. He mentioned that getting an early lead and getting the fans engaged from the start was definitely a positive boost for the team.

Distractions couldn’t deter Yankees

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Following a series of frenzied events, the hard-fought victory shifted the focus back to the diamond. These events included an inactive trade deadline on Tuesday, Domingo German’s departure from the team to enter an alcohol treatment center on Wednesday, and the news on Thursday about Anthony Rizzo’s IL stint after dealing with post-concussion syndrome.

Despite dealing with various distractions lately, the team has demonstrated an impressive ability to stay focused. The Yankees’ recent victory marked the first instance since July 3-4, against the Orioles, where they secured consecutive wins against an opponent with a winning record.

Cristian Javier, who had been a troublesome opponent for the Yankees in the past, only lasted 4.2 innings against the Astros, as the pinstripers made him throw 102 pitches. The Yankees took an early lead, watched it vanish, but quickly responded, ultimately securing a 4-3 victory in front of 44,019 fans in The Bronx.

Aaron Boone described the Yankees’ recent at-bats as “heavier, tougher, grindier” and emphasized their desire to make the opposing teams feel the intensity during their at-bats. He mentioned that these qualities were an indication that the Yankees are improving.

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