Yanks Stun Astros, 13-4
Gardner Smashes Slam, Drives In 6

Gardner: Mowing the Astros
(c) Getty Images
It was one of those nights where you could watch the wheels coming off the Houston Astros with one mistake contributing to the next until the visiting New York Yankees, so ravaged with injuries that they were starting Chris Carter (yes, that Chris Carter) a week after they had designated him for assignment, took advantage of each one to explode for a 13-4 destruction of the Astros before a packed 40,000 crowd and a national tv audience.

Houston ended the statistical first half of the season with a record of 54-27 (.667), the best record in the majors (by 1/2-game over the Dodgers) so there's no reason to get terribly upset but a month of watching the bullpen take over in the sixth inning or earlier was clearly taking its toll on a unit that had been sent to the post far too often.

Lance McCullers, who was making his second start upon his return from the Disabled List, appeared to run out of steam in the sixth after 97 pitches while holding a 3-1 lead. McCullers had just walked Austin Romine to put his second man aboard with one out and manager A.J. Hinch turned to long reliever Michael Feliz. Four hits and a wild pitch later, the Brinks Bombers owned a 6-3 lead while Reymin Guduan was used to get the final out.

When Guduan couldn't get out of the seventh, James Hoyt was brought in with the hope of ending the threat. Instead, Brett Gardner unloaded on a 3-2 pitch into the right field seats for a grand slam and a 10-3 New York advantage. The Yankees were giving the Astros a taste of their own medicine - teeing off on overmatched bullpens to run up the score.

Gardner, batting leadoff a la George Springer, belted his 15th home run of the season and drove in six runs overall. The once-designated Carter was 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Former Astros farmhand Ronald Torreyes was 3-for-3 and scored three times.

Ironically, the 2-3-4 part of the Yankee order - Jacoby Ellsbury, Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius - were held relatively in check with a combined 3-for-15.

After the game was no longer in doubt, outfielder Nori Aoki was brought in to pitch the ninth and allowed the final three Yankee runs. Meanwhile, the slumping New Yorkers were getting out a lot of pent-up frustration regarding recent events.

The Astros were following their usual script for the first five frames and racked up nine hits with Springer, Jose Altuve and Marwin Gonzalez turning in multi-hit games but they were not enough to prevent Michael Pineda from claiming his eighth win of the year.

The two clubs return to action Saturday night at Minute Maid with lefty Jordan Montgomery (6-4) pitching for the Bombers against rookie Francis Martes (2-0) which would lead one to expect another long night for the Houston bullpen. The first pitch is at 6:15 Central.

In case you missed it, former Astro Mike Foltynewicz, who was sent to Atlanta in the trade for Hoyt and Evan Gattis, tossed eight innings of no-hit ball against Oakland on Friday night before giving up a home run that broke up the bid. Atlanta, whom the Astros see next week, won the game, 3-1.

- Bob Hulsey