Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Astros Hold off Yankees

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Astros Hold off Yankees

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - Off the bat, Gary Sanchez thought his ninth-inning single had brought the Yankees all the way back from another late deficit - a hallmark of their surprising early spring play.

"Yeah, once I hit it, I thought we had a chance," Sanchez said through an interpreter.

Aaron Hicks scored easily from third, but Jacoby Ellsbury - racing from second base - was nailed at the plate by left fielder Jake Marisnick's strong throw, dramatically ending a 3-2 Astros win at Yankee Stadium.

Over the first eight innings, "we just never really got the one big hit," said manager Joe Girardi, referencing Yankee nemesis Dallas Keuchel's six sharp innings and two scoreless frames by right-hander Chris Devenski.

But the Yanks kept that puncher's-chance persona going against Houston closer Ken Giles.

Trailing 3-1 in the ninth, Hicks drew his third walk of the night, with one out, and moved to third on Ellsbury's sharp single to left.

Ellsbury stole second, putting the tying runs in scoring position for Sanchez, who lashed a ground single to left.

"I saw they pulled the outfield in, which is the right play, and he charged it well and threw a strike," Ellsbury said of Marisnick's one-hop throw. Ellsbury moved inside, but couldn't avoid ex-Yankee catcher Brian McCann's tag.

"It's the right call" Girardi said of third base coach Joe Espada's send. "And he made a perfect throw home."

And the Yankees (21-11) were left to re-live all their imperfections against Houston (24-11) in the first of a four-game series between two of the AL's best teams.

Keuchel worked his usual magic, yielding just an unearned run on five hits in six innings, with nine strikeouts - a product of his darting two-seamers, and downward sliders and change-ups.

"I could see the ball well, but he moves it a lot," said Sanchez, 0-for-4 against Keuchel (5-0), remembered best in the Bronx for blanking the Yankees in the 2015 AL wild card game. …

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