Yankees fans finally got the pound of Astros flesh they were denied last season by the pandemic.
The Yankees, though seemingly very much enjoying the unrelenting verbal hostility meted out for well over three hours, ultimately got what they were after.
Behind four more hits from a red-hot Giancarlo Stanton and a critical DJ LeMahieu infield single and Astros error in which three runs scored – including a scary play at the plate – the Yankees beat the Astros, 7-3, in front of a sellout crowd of 10,850 that often sounded like three times that number Tuesday night at the Stadium.
"That was intense," Stanton said. "The fans led the charge."
Said LeMahieu: "That was wild. It was a lot of fun to be a part of, at least from our side. They let them [the Astros] know. They had our backs the whole game. To know fans have our backs like that is pretty special."
The victory moved the Yankees (15-14), winners of six of their last seven, over .500 for the first time since they were 3-2 April 6.
Fans, reacting to the sign-stealing scandal, let the Astros (15-14) have it from the moment they began streaming into the ballpark at 5:30 p.m., hurling all kinds of invective – at those players shagging in the outfield and those stepping into the cage. The loudest jeers, not surprisingly, were reserved for Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve, who beat out Judge for the 2017 AL MVP award. Altuve (0-for-4) especially got it from the crowd, hearing derisive chants not only during his at-bats but also at random points in the game, almost all of those chants including an expletive of some kind.
"I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of that," Stanton said. "They brought something heavy."
After Bregman momentarily – but only momentarily – quieted the crowd with his two-out homer off Domingo German in the first, the Yankees put Zack Greinke through a miserable 31-pitch bottom of the first.
A resurgent LeMahieu improved to 9 for his last 25 with a leadoff single and Stanton extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a towering drive to left on a 72-mph curveball, his team-best seventh homer making it 2-1. Stanton, whose RBI single completed the four-run sixth that made it 7-3, finished a triple shy of the cycle.
As Judge stepped in after the Stanton blast, he was greeted with an "MVP! MVP!" chant. In the same plate appearance, which resulted in a walk, he also was serenaded with a chant directed toward Altuve.
"I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that," manager Aaron Boone said of the relentless abuse doled out to Altuve.
Of the hope expressed by the Astros that people will eventually move on from the scandal, LeMahieu said: "I don't think people will turn the page on that anytime soon.
Clint Frazier grounded into a double play with the bases loaded, which brought in Judge to make it 3-1.
German cruised into the fourth having retired seven straight, but the long ball ended that streak as Michael Brantley led off the fourth with his third homer to make it 3-2. Yuli Gurriel’s RBI double, which missed going out by inches, made it 3-3.
The Yankees took the lead for good in the sixth. Facing righty Bryan Abreu, LeMahieu fell behind 0-and-2 before hitting a trickler toward third. Bregman barehanded the ball but threw wildly to first. Gleyber Torres, who was on third, and Kyle Higashioka, on second, scored easily, but Rougned Odor, who scored from first, did not slide on the play at the plate and his left knee collided with the head o Martin Maldonado. The catcher immediately collapsed, and Odor went down hard as well, appearing to wrench his left ankle and knee while stepping on the plate. Odor, who underwent an MRI late Tuesday night, eventually was helped off the field. The crowd, while there were some boos, actually mostly applauded Maldonado as he was led off the field – an exception for a night few in uniform will soon forget.
"I'd be lying if I if I told you there wasn't an extra level of energy," Boone said. "You could feel it when you walked out there. It got your attention, certainly."