The New York Yankees were unable to cap off a sweep of the Houston Astros as they dropped the series finale from Minute Maid Park.

  • New York Yankees: 1 (52-49)
  • Houston Astros: 4 (55-46)
  • American League, FINAL, Box Score
  • Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX

After two convincing wins in to kick off the three-game set in Houston, the New York Yankees came up empty handed in the series finale as they stalled in every area of the playoff standings.

Losses from the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Orioles provided the Yanks with an opportunity to not only gain ground in the division, but in the jam-packed wild card standings as well. However, the loss halted their hopes of steamrolling up the standings, at least for another couple of days.

Masahiro Tanaka was shaky on the mound for New York as he surrendered his four runs combined over two frames — the second and third innings — while taking the loss. The righty only lasted five innings, permitting seven hits while striking out four.

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Troy Taormina, USA Today Images

His counterpart, Lance McCullers, was the opposite of shaky in helping the Astros salvage the final game of the series. The 22-year-old allowed a mere five hits and one run while striking out 10. His performance, combined with a stellar bullpen, earned him his sixth win against four losses.

The Yankee offense was punchless as they failed to string together hits and, therefore, provided no real opportunities with runners in scoring position. The loss dropped the Bombers to 52-49 (.515), yet saw them complete a stretch against four formidable playoff opponents at 8-5 (.615).

Highlights

The Astros took early 1-0 leads in all three games of the series, but were only able to come out victorious in one of those said games. In the bottom of the second, Carlos Gomez singled right back through the middle to score Preston Tucker and give Houston the early advantage.

Unlike the first two nights, the Astros were able to tack on some important runs in the following frame. It started with Carlos Correa lining an RBI single into left to make it a 2-0 ballgame.

Later in the inning, Colby Rasmus provided an exclamation point as he executed his best follow-up act of the home run he hit off Tanaka in the AL Wild Card game last year. On a 2-1 pitch, he crushed a hanging offspeed pitch out to right-center field for a two-run blast.

With a comfortable 4-0 cushion, McCullers did not look back. Accounting for 10 of the 15 recorded strikeouts by the Astros staff, he was in a complete groove while keeping his team in front. The lone blemish of the outing was a Brian McCann solo shot to left-center which got New York to within 4-1, but was completely harmless when it was all said and done.

Ken Giles, Luke Gregerson, and Will Harris collected five combined strikeouts over three perfect innings to slam the door.

Regular Rest

With his uneven performance tonight, Masahiro Tanaka is 1-3 with a subpar 4.95 ERA in 10 starts this season on regular (four days) rest. Conversely, the 27-year-old is 4-0 with a 1.05 ERA in seven starts when handed one additional day.

The Yankees had no off days to accommodate their ace this time around, and the uncharacteristic nature of his outing proves that the split is no fluke. A man who pitched once a week in Japan needs the extra day to recuperate.

Severino Toes The Rubber

Troy Taormina, USA Today Images
Troy Taormina, USA Today Images

In his first big league appearance since May 13, Luis Severino came on in relief and fired two hitless frames while striking out three. Featuring an improved slider with bite down in the strike zone, the 22-year-old potentially solidified a permanent spot with the big club. Simply put, there is too much upside to ignore.

The hard-throwing right-hander went 7-1 with a 3.25 ERA in 10 starts down in Scranton before receiving the nod. Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, and company can only hope a kid with major promise returns to form after an early “sophomore slump.”

What’s Next?

The Yankees will enjoy their first off day of the second half tomorrow, spending a portion of it getting settled in Tampa Bay.

On Friday, they will begin a three-game set with the last-place Rays. Ivan Nova (7-5, 4.65 ERA) will take the ball for New York opposing Jake Odorizzi (4-5, 4.10 ERA), who will be on the hill for Tampa.

First pitch will commence at 7:10 pm ET in the series opener from Tropicana Field. The game can be seen on YES and heard on WFAN 660/101.9 FM. Stay tuned to ESNY for an in-depth pregame with all you need to know ahead of the AL East clash.

NEXT: Nationals Positioned To Make Strong Push For Andrew Miller

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