Here’s Thursday’s lesson from the Yankees’ 8-5 win over the Astros at Yankee Stadium:
Even the hardest fastballs can travel just as fast on the way back out.
Nathan Eovaldi found that out when he gave up five runs, including two home runs, in five innings despite beginning his first start of the season with 102-mph heat.
Happily for the Yankees, Mark Teixeira put an exclamation point on that point when he turned around a 98-mph fastball from Astros reliever Ken Giles for a tiebreaking three-run homer in the seventh. The Yankees went on to their second win of the season after losing on Opening Day.
Teixeira’s second home run of the season and second three-run homer in as many games was an opposite-field line drive into the first row in leftfield.
“I don’t hit many that way,” Teixeira said. “I haven’t hit many that way in my entire career. When I do, it feels good. It’s good to have that kind of swing. It was tailing away a little bit. I just put a good swing on it.”
One batter earlier, Alex Rodriguez greeted Giles with a line single to center on another 98-mph pitch after A-Rod had swung through two heaters.
“Look, it’s all technique, right?” Rodriguez said. “If you’re doing the technique right, you’re able to hit a ball 98. When you don’t do the technique right, they throw 88 right by you.”
The Yankees hit three home runs after banging out three in a 16-6 rout the night before. They have 24 runs and 29 hits in the last two games.
“I look at these two days,” manager Joe Girardi said, “and what’s great is you’re getting contributions up and down the lineup. And that’s what we talked about, that we feel this lineup’s capable of doing.”
Starlin Castro continued his first-series onslaught with two hits, including a single off the leftfield wall (he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double) and a long home run to left.
Castro is 7-for-12 with two doubles, two home runs and eight RBIs in his first three games with the Yankees.
Brian McCann opened the fourth with a homer inside the foul pole in right to begin the Yankees’ comeback from a 5-2 deficit. Castro followed two outs later with his blast off Mike Fiers.
Eovaldi had put the Yankees in a hole despite coming out of the gate with overpowering stuff. The righthander, who missed most of the last month of last season with elbow soreness, broke the 100-mph barrier twice on the stadium gun in a six-pitch first inning. Then he struck out the first two Astros in the second. But Luis Valbuena doubled, Tyler White hit his first career home run and Preston Tucker followed with a solo shot to give the Astros a 3-0 lead.
After the Yankees got to within a run on Chase Headley’s sacrifice fly in the second and Jacoby Ellsbury’s RBI double in the third, White (four RBIs) hit a two-run single in the fourth to restore Houston’s three-run advantage.
But McCann and Castro went deep in the fourth and Rodriguez tied the score at 5-5 in the fifth with an RBI single to center, his first hit of the season in his ninth at-bat. Both of his hits came on 0-and-2 pitches.
“You look up there, you have zeroes all over the place,” Rodriguez said. “Everyone else has got over .500 or .600. It definitely felt good to get the first one out of the way.”
Kirby Yates, Chasen Shreve (1-0), Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller (first save) combined for four shutout innings with seven strikeouts.
Miller, in his first regular-season appearance with a broken bone in his right (non-pitching) hand, gave up two singles but struck out the side, including potential tying runs Marwin Gonzalez and Erik Kratz to end it.
The last pitch? An 84-mph slider that tied Kratz into a knot for strike three. Sometimes slower is better, apparently.