Giancarlo Stanton Yankees
Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports

Any YankeesAstros series has playoff potential at this point. These last four games in the Bronx proved no exception as the two bitter rivals faced off again.

Now that the dust has settled on this series split, there are some clear takeaways that don’t need their own entry. The Yankees are a good team, and so are the Astros. As usual, the Yankees put up a big fight, but so did the Astros. Just ask Cristian Javier, the winning pitcher in Saturday’s no-hitter.

But more importantly, this series painted a picture of what to expect from the Yankees the rest of the season. One way or another, the road to the World Series almost certainly goes through Minute Maid Park.

And now, some deeper takeaways:

Old habits die hard. Look at all four games of the series, and it’s blatantly obvious what hampered the Yankees, even in the two games they won. Maybe it was constantly playing from behind, or maybe Houston’s pitching overwhelmed them. Either way, New York fell into the bad habit of trying to win the game with one swing as opposed to stringing together at-bats.

That isn’t to say the Yankees fully regressed to last year’s level. The team still drew 20 walks in four games. Yet, all but one of New York’s runs in the series came via the home run. Against an elite pitching staff like the Astros that isn’t a reliable winning approach.

Giancarlo Stanton turns a corner. In our series preview, Stanton was named the series’ X-factor as he was slumping and hits Houston well. Three home runs and five RBI in the series later, even the YES broadcast team noted that his fortunes were starting to turn. This was his easily his best series since coming off the injured list, even if he is still batting just .140 in June.

Paging Mr. Peraza? Yankees fans can breathe a sigh of relief as manager Aaron Boone said postgame that second baseman Gleyber Torres only suffered a “mild ankle sprain” while getting picked off third base on Sunday. It’s not the worst thing if he misses time since DJ LeMahieu can just shift to second base. Marwin Gonzalez can also help pick up the slack.

But if Torres hits the IL and a roster move is made, this is a prime opportunity to call Oswald Peraza up to the big league club. The Yankees’ No. 2 prospect is only batting .234 at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but has nine home runs with 23 RBI and 15 steals. The Yankees will probably just call up an extra bullpen arm, but Peraza’s making a stronger and stronger case to get the call soon.

A legitimate, competitive playoff team. A common theme the past two weeks have been how important this two-week stretch of games would be for New York. Six against the Rays, three against the Blue Jays, and four against Houston. Two pesky American League East rivals and a regular playoff foe.

A 9-4 run later, we can say it. These Yankees are an absolute force in baseball this year. It doesn’t matter that they got no-hit on Saturday. That’s one loss of just 20 on the year. The Yankees can indeed beat winning teams, and they just split a season series with the second-best team in the AL.

Now, let’s see how they respond from a grueling series when the AL-worst Athletics come to town.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.