For the first time since Aroldis Chapman gave up a game-winning home run to Jose Altuve in 2019, which sent the Astros to the World Series, the Yankees will play a game in Houston. The Astros will host this one at Minute Maid Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 8:10 pm ET.
The Yankees are currently 44-42, fourth in the A.L. East and nine games behind the Boston Red Sox. In their last series, the Yankees took two of three from the Seattle Mariners but dropped the finale on Thursday, 4-0.
Like the Yankees, the Astros won two of three in their last series from the Oakland Athletics but dropped the last game Thursday. Now 54-34, the Astros lead the A.L. West by 4.5 games over the Athletics.
It appears that the Yankees will deploy a bullpen game on Friday, led by lefty Nestor Cortes. On the season, Cortes is 0-0 with a 1.29 ERA in eight games (one start). In 21 innings, he has struck out 29 while walking eight.
The Astros will send veteran righty Jake Odorizzi (3-3, 3.70 ERA) to the mound. In his last start, a 3-2 win over the Indians, Odorizzi went six innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks.
By The Numbers
Offensively, the Astros have been the best team in baseball. They lead several categories, including scoring, where they average 5.60 runs per game. The Yankees rank 19th averaging 4.21 runs per game.
In terms of pitching, it is once again the Astros with the advantage. They rank eighth in team earned run average at 3.61. The Yankee’s staff ERA ranks 10th at 3.81.
Yankees Aim For Revenge
There is definitely some bad blood in this one. Stemming all the way back to 2017, the year of the cheating scandal, and most recently in 2019, when the Astros knocked the Yankees out in the ALCS, New York has definitely had a chip on their shoulder when it comes to Houston.
If the sheer memory wasn’t bad enough, the Astros have added a little extra fuel to the fire as their giveaway Friday night are replica 2019 AL Champions Trophies.
Trying to exact some revenge will be Aaron Judge and company. On the season, Judge is currently hitting .284/.377/.525 with a team-leading 20 home runs, 46 runs batted in, and 49 runs scored.
Judge has also had success against Odorizzi in his career, going three for ten with a home run. Rougned Odor has also had success against Odor, going three for nine with two home runs against the righty.
Astros Try To Stay Hot At Home
At 54-34, the Astros are tied for the best record in the American League. Solid both at home (28-17) and on the road (26-17), the Astros will try to add to their win total at Minute Maid Park.
Leading the way for the Astros is second baseman Jose Altuve. This season, he is hitting .282/.366/.502 with 19 home runs, 52 runs batted in, and 64 runs scored.
The Astros have an embarrassment of riches on the offensive side. Yordan Alvarez (.304 avg., 16 HR, 56 RBI), Carlos Correa (.288 avg., 16 HR, 52 RBI, 61 R), Kyle Tucker (.265 avg, 14 HR), Yuli Gurriel (.319 avg, 10 HR, 54 RBI) Michael Brantley (.332 avg, 42 R) and others have been sensational this season.
Taking Astros To Win
This should be a really entertaining series this weekend, but the opener certainly sees the Astros with the advantage. While the Yankees have the seventh-best bullpen ERA at 3.46, it is still tough to bank on a full game of relievers without any hiccups, especially against the best offense in MLB.
Granted, Jake Odorizzi has shown some bumps in the road, but it still seems like the smart money in this one is on the Astros.