Astros' offense comes to life at expense of Pettitte, Yanks
New York — The no-name New York Yankees were no match for a group of young Houston Astros trying to make a name for themselves.
Working with a rookie catcher, Andy Pettitte unraveled early, and the Yankees could not figure out Lucas Harrell during a 9-1 loss to the Astros on Monday night that ended their four-game winning streak.
Pettitte gave up season highs of 10 hits and seven runs in 4 1-3 innings, and injury-ravaged New York failed to get the ball off the ground against Harrell until the sixth in losing at Yankee Stadium for only the second time in nine games.
“Just a poor job of me managing my way through that game, and a poor job of helping Romey go through that game,” Pettitte said of working with Austin Romine. “All around just a sickening game for me, and a very frustrating game. I’m just looking forward to getting back out there.”
The Yankees were without Kevin Youkilis for the eighth time in nine games because of a bad back. The infielder had an MRI on Monday and he’ll get a shot for his back probably on Tuesday.
“His MRI came back negative,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He is going to get an epidural and we’re deciding what we’re going to do with him.”
Carlos Corporan homered among his four hits and drove in four runs for the Astros, who were swept by Boston in four games before heading to New York. Brandon Barnes had three hits and three RBIs in Houston’s first game in the Bronx as an AL team.
The Astros had 17 hits in improving the AL’s worst record to 8-18 and scored their first five runs with two outs.
“I know they can do it,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “You’re just waiting for it to happen night in and night out and be consistent. That’s why we stay positive, because we know it’s in there.”
Harrell (3-2) kept New York grounded. The Yankees did not hit the ball in the air against the sinkerballer until Brett Gardner blooped a single into left field with one out in the sixth — eliciting a mock cheer from those that remained from the announced crowd of 34,262 on a dank night. Harrell got 14 groundball outs, and he induced three double plays in the first four innings.
In 6 1-3 innings, the right-hander gave up eight hits, hit a batter and walked one. He struck out four and had one flyout. Harrell has allowed two runs or fewer in five of his six starts.
“Exactly what we thought he was going to do,” Girardi said. “They got him a lead and he was able to continue to pound the sinker down in the zone and we kept hitting it into the ground.”
The youngest roster in the majors, checking in with an average age of 27 years, 224 days, beat the oldest in baseball at 31 years, 155 days, according to STATS, for just the second time in 10 matchups all-time. In their only other win, six Astros combined on a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium in 2003.
Pitching against the only other team he has ever played for and working with Romine for the first time, Pettitte (3-2) looked uncomfortable throughout. He frequently adjusted his uniform, at times pitched from the stretch with no one on base and even once had to wave several times to get Romine’s attention when he wanted a new baseball.
“He hasn’t been back there, and I felt like maybe I didn’t get into the rhythm I wanted to,” Pettitte said.
Romine was called up Saturday after Francisco Cervelli broke his hand Friday night against Toronto.
“I’ve got to get here (Tuesday) and we’ve got to talk about what happened,” Romine said. “We’ve got to iron this out the next time.”
Pettitte got two quick outs to start the game but then gave up three straight hits, including an RBI single to Carlos Pena, then a walk and a two-run double by Corporan.
“Those are the hits that have been eluding us lately,” Porter said.
Barnes hit his two-out, two-run double in the fourth to make it 5-0. The Astros chased Pettitte, who briskly walked off the field, after Ronny Cedeno doubled to put runners on second and third with one out.
Adam Warren came on and threw a wild pitch to score a run. Then when Corporan connected for his first of the year four pitches later, a two-run shot that right fielder Brennan Boesch barely moved on, a fan in a nearly silent Yankee Stadium shouted “mercy rule,” eliciting laughter. Barnes drove in one more in the fifth with a single to make it 9-0.
Pettitte yielded his most hits since Sept. 24, 2010, against Boston. It’s also the most runs since the Red Sox scored seven in that game.
“I’ve seen Andy since 1996, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him not have his slider,” Girardi said. “That has been a signature pitch for him for a long time, and it just didn’t have the bite today that we’re used to seeing and that’s kind of strange.”
Vernon Wells had an RBI single on a sharp grounder to right field off Harrell in the sixth.
■ The Yankees grounded into a season-high four double plays. ... Yankees GM Brian Cashman was out of his walking boot. He broke his right leg and dislocated the ankle while skydiving during spring training. ... Yankees LHP Vidal Nuno made his big league debut and tossed three scoreless innings. ... The eight-run loss was New York’s largest since July 14, 2011, at Toronto.
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