At its very best, this is what this Yankees lineup is capable of.
The game after scraping together two runs against nemesis Dallas Keuchel, the Yankees put on a thunderous offensive display against the less intimidating duo of Collin McHugh and Michael Feliz. They scored six times in the first inning and three times each in the second and third and routed the Astros, 16-6, Wednesday night at the Stadium.
Even more promising, they executed their game plan to a tee, Carlos Beltran said, working McHugh, not chasing pitches, and doing much of the same against Felix. Leading the 17-hit, three-homer attack was Starlin Castro (4-for-5, double, home run, five RBIs) and Mark Teixeira (homer, four RBIs).
“We were able to make that guy throw balls high in the strike zone,” Beltran said of McHugh. “I mean, today was a good game, but the game of baseball, not every day happens what happened today, but we’re confident in the hitters that we have. We know that if we’re capable of putting good at-bats together, we can be successful.”
Carlos Correa, who was an absolute menace to the Yankees on Opening Day — he homered, scored twice and hit the dribbler that Dellin Betances threw away for the go-ahead run — picked up right where he left off. With two outs in the first, he slammed Michael Pineda’s 0-and-2 slider into the leftfield bleachers for a 1-0 lead. He hit another homer off Pineda, a solo shot in the fifth, but by then it was too late to matter.
The Yankees chased McHugh in the endless first, sending 12 men up and scoring six runs, five earned, for a 6-1 lead. McHugh allowed three hits and two walks before being pulled for Feliz after recording only one out. McHugh threw 43 pitches, only 25 for strikes, and left with a bloated 108.00 ERA.
Teixeira hit a bases-loaded single to score Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brian McCann ripped a two-run single. Beltran, Chase Headley and Castro added RBIs.
“This is what we’re capable of,” Teixeira said. “You’re not going to do that every night, especially against a good team, but when you have the entire lineup that’s clicking, you’re going to have a couple nights like that, and they feel good.”
It was blustery, with temperatures in the 40s that felt much colder, and no pitcher seemed immune, including Pineda.
The Astros made it a ballgame — briefly — in the second, when George Springer teed off on another bad slider by Pineda for a grand slam, cutting the lead to 6-5. But with the cold wind blowing out and the Yankees’ bats red hot, it wasn’t enough: Castro hit a two-out, three-run shot in the second. That, along with an RBI single in the first, gave the ex-Cub six RBIs in his first five at-bats as a Yankee. He has seven in two games.
Teixeira added a towering three-run homer in the third for a 12-5 edge. Correa’s second homer made it 12-6, but Beltran pulled a shot to left off Tony Sipp in the third to keep the lead at seven.
The onslaught mitigated a rough performance by Pineda. He threw 87 pitches in five innings, allowing six earned runs and eight hits, including three home runs, and struck out five.
But after a victory as decisive and cleansing as this one, it was hard to see the bad side.
“We continued to tack on,” Joe Girardi said. “I think that’s important. It changes the way you can do things, and tacking on runs is really important over the course of the season.”
Especially if the Yankees hope to live up to their full potential.