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Breaking: Yankees acquire LHP James Paxton in exchange for LHP Justus Sheffield, RHP Erik Swanson, and OF Dom Thompson-Williams

The Yankees have made their first splash of the offseason by acquiring the Big Maple, James Paxton, from the Seattle Mariners. Fresh off his second-consecutive season at the top of the Mariner’s rotation, Paxton did not come cheap as the Yankees traded away their top prospect, Justus Sheffield, along with breakout prospects Erik Swanson and Dominic Thompson-Williams.

Charlie Morton outduels Sonny Gray as the Yankees' nine-game winning streak is snapped

In a game dominated by pitching, the Yankees did not produce much at the plate and fell victim to Charlie Morton’s brilliance. Sonny Gray looked much better out there tonight and worked out of trouble in big spots to only allow two runs over six innings. The Yankees chipped away at the lead in the eighth, cutting the game to 2-1, but ultimately could not push another run across and their nine-game winning streak was snapped.
Photo Credit: AP

There was an interesting start to the bottom of the first as Sonny Gray made a good pitch but gave up a base hit, then balked, which advanced George Springer to second with Jose Altuve coming to the plate. Following this, there were two more ground balls to short, resulting in a run. Gray then got out of the inning with minimal damage.

The second inning was more of the same for the Yankee bats who Charlie Morton made easy work of early on. Gray settled down in the bottom half of the inning and worked a 1-2-3 inning.

In the top of the third, Walker grounded out, then Torres had a good at-bat to work a walk for the Yankees first base runner of the night. One pitch later, Austin Romine grounded into a double play to end the inning and any hope the Yankees had of getting something going against Morton. Morton clearly had his good stuff up to this point and it is showing, making this formidable lineup look bad early on.  Sonny Gray again retired the Astros in order, looking very good and being the aggressive Sonny we have been looking for all season.

In an inning (fourth) where it felt like momentum was there to be had, the Yankees led off with two straight strike outs, the first being a questionable high strike call on Gardner, the second being a nice slider in the dirt to get Gregorius. Stanton was then retired with a hard ground ball to shortstop, keeping the no-hitter alive for Morton, who had been simply dominating in all facets of pitching up to this point. In the bottom of the inning, the Astros took that momentum and Gray started to unravel. Following a leadoff single by Altuve, Carlos Correa worked a walk. Then, Gurriel hit a weak fly ball to left field that ended up being a double off the short porch in left scoring one. In a second and third situation with no one out, Sonny Gray got Reddick to ground out to first, where Walker made a nice play and threw home to easily get Correa at the plate. After walking Bregman, Gray faced a pivotal moment in the game with the bases loaded against Marwin Gonzalez. Gray would get a HUGE strikeout by being aggressive with his fastball inside, and then used a nice curveball to put him away. With two outs, Gray faced McCann who flied out to right field, leaving only one run in with the bases left loaded.
Photo Credit: AP

As the Yankees came to bat in the fifth down 2-0, they were struck out in order after a lead-off walk by Gary Sanchez. Another 1-2-3 inning for Sonny in the bottom of the frame led to the top of the sixth, with the Yankees still being no hit.

After six and a third innings, Austin Romine finally hit a one-out single to right field to save the Yankees from total embarrassment. However, the next two batters were set down in order as Brett Gardner continued to look totally lost at the plate in this long lull he is going through. Gray came out again for the bottom of the sixth which did not start off well. A double down the line to lead off the inning was followed by two quick outs. Gray proceeded to walk the next batter, and with runners on first and second and two outs got a big strike out to end his night. He produced a solid six innings of work and limited the damage, only giving up two runs.

Charlie Morton continued his dominance of the Yankee lineup in the seventh, setting them down in order once again without any hard contact. Dellin Betances came on to relieve Gray in the bottom of seventh in a 2-0 game, raising the blood pressure of many Yankee fans. To the surprise of the Yankee faithful, Betances returned to vintage form, looking dominant setting down the Astros in order.

Down to their last six outs, the Yankees once again were set down two batters in a row by Morton. At over 100 pitches, he faced Gleyber Torres who ripped a double off the base of the left field wall. This prompted Hinch to take out Morton and bring in the reliever Brad Peacock to face Aaron Judge, who had not started the game, but who was put in by Boone in the big spot. Aaron Judge worked a walk, with Torres moving to third on the payoff pitch putting the Yankees in a first and third situation with two outs, with the tying run on first base and Brett Gardner at the plate, a great opportunity to break out of his slump and deliver in the clutch. A.J. Hinch once again turned to the bullpen to counter Gardner with Chris Devenski, who features a good changeup which plays well against lefties. Gardner wasted no time against Devenski, smacking a base hit to right field on the first pitch, putting the game at 2-1 with runners on first and second. The Yankees hottest hitter, Didi Gregorius came to the plate in the biggest spot of the game, with the go ahead run on first base. Didi quickly fell behind 0-2 in the count and chased a change up in the dirt for his third strike out of the night, ending the threat right there, leaving one more chance for the Yankees to draw even.

The Yankees turned to Jonathan Holder in the top of the ninth to try and hold the Astros right where they were. Holder has been very good lately, and looked nothing short of that in the ninth. Despite a one-out base hit, Holder quickly worked a double play to set the Yankees up for magic against Ken Giles in the top of the ninth. With Stanton, Sanchez and Hicks due up, the Yankees seemed to be in a good spot to level the game up at two. After a swinging strikeout by Stanton, a questionable call on a 3-2 outside fastball retired Sanchez looking. Down to their final out, Aaron Hicks came to the plate. He was subsequently struck out on three pitches as any hope of a Yankee come back was foiled before it got the chance to start.



Sonny Gray was very good tonight. His final line came out to 6 IP only four hits, three walks and four strike outs. At a total of 97 pitches he threw 60 for strikes, a decent ratio. At times Gray looked like his old self and danced around hitters, but for the most part was very aggressive tonight. His fastball looked to have more life and downward action with his curveball generating more late break and depth. He made big pitches and got out of big spots especially in the fourth where he only gave up one run on a second and third with no outs situation.

Dellin Betances and Jonathan Holder both looked good tonight which is a good sign for the next few weeks until Kahnle and Warren return from the DL. Betances looked especially dominant, setting the side down in order, topping of at 99 MPH with his fastball and the same devastating curve ball that he has been known to throw.

Gleyber Torres was just about the only bright spot in the Yankee lineup today, working a walk his first time up, lining out hard to Altuve his second time up, and eventually ripping the double down the line that would take Charlie Morton out of the game in the eighth inning. He looked very relaxed and had three very good at bats.

Aaron Boone made some good managing decisions tonight, by pinch hitting Judge in the eight as well as managing the pitching very well.


Nearly the entire lineup apart from Torres looked lost tonight. Granted, Morton had his A+ stuff tonight, spotting his fastball in the high 90’s on corners and putting hitters away with a wipe out slider. The lineup will be okay and will look to bounce back tomorrow.

What’s Next?
The Yanks are back at it again tomorrow with Jordan Montgomery on the mound against Justin Verlander. Their nine-game winning streak was snapped but they will look to rebound tomorrow. Not the end of the world by any means, but the Yankees need to at least take one from the Astros to keep the confidence alive for the future against this team, as it could be an opponent they see again and again in the coming years, with both teams stacked with young talent.

Winning Pitcher: Charlie Morton (4-0, 1.72 ERA) 7.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K
Losing Pitcher: Sonny Gray (1-2, 6.67 ERA) 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
Save: Ken Giles (3)

Brett Gardner: 1-4, 1 RBI
Gleyber Torres: 1-2, 1 BB, 1 R, 1 2B
Austin Romine: 1-2

What’s Next?
The Yanks are back at it again tomorrow with Jordan Montgomery on the mound against Justin Verlander. Their nine-game winning streak was snapped but they will look to rebound tomorrow. Not the end of the world by any means, but the Yankees need to at least take one from the Astros to keep the confidence alive for the future against this team, as it could be an opponent they see again and again in the coming years, with both teams stacked with young talent.

Article by: Brendan Mills