The Houston Astros continue to own the New York Yankees, but the Bronx Bombers don’t want to hear that narrative.
The Astros took a 2-0 lead in the American League Championship Series Thursday night. Alex Bregman’s three-run home run in the third inning was all Houston needed in its 3-2 win over the Yanks.
But Bregman’s homer was hardly one of the hardest-hit balls on the night. His home run would have been gone in 25 out of 30 ballparks, per @WouldItDong on Twitter. Baseball Savant said the homer had an “expected batting average” (xBA) of just .040 based on the exit velocity (91.8 mph) and launch angle (36 degrees).
Severino, despite being the losing pitcher, wasn’t impressed with Bregman’s difference-making home run.
“I threw a great pitch. I mean he hit it at 91 mph,” Severino said. “That’s the only thing I’m gonna say. … I don’t know, they got lucky …
“I didn’t know at the beginning how hard he hit, but when I saw the iPad, I know the wind was blowing. That was the only reason the ball got out. I think I made a good pitch in that situation there and that’s it.”
The wind was a topic of conversation before the game and after it as well. The roof of Minute Maid Park was open, a rarity in Houston, especially in the postseason.
For the record, Major League Baseball makes the decision on the roof in the postseason. The Astros prefer the roof closed because the stadium is louder than when it’s open.
“I think the roof open kind of killed us,” manager Aaron Boone said.
He’s not wrong. Aaron Judge hit an opposite field rocket that left the bat at over 106 miles per hour with a launch angle of 28 degrees and an xBA of .910. But the wind was blowing in from right field. Kyle Tucker caught the fly ball at the top of the wall. Had the roof been closed, Judge’s flyout might have been a two-run home run to take a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning.
“I think it’s a 390-(foot) ball, I think it was like 106 (mph) at whatever,” Boone said. “And when I went out to take Sevy out, we noticed it a lot with Tucker’s ball. The base hit he got to right, it kind of looked like it just went and stopped. I think Judgey’s a homer all the time … The wind was blowing across like that.
“I didn’t think he smoked it, no-doubter, but it felt like his homers to right.”
Judge admitted he just “hit it to the wrong part of the park.”
The Yankees were victims of the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in 2017, and many fans and some in the organization claim the cheating continued in 2019 with Jose Altuve wearing a wire or a buzzer during his walk-off home run off Aroldis Chapman that sent Houston the Astros to the World Series.
Maybe the Yankees still think something is fishy with the Astros, but wind and a decision made by MLB to close the roof, which Houston is almost never in favor, of doesn’t seem to add up to an unfair advantage.
Games 3, 4 and 5 from Saturday through Monday will be played at Yankee Stadium, where the Bombers have taken advantage of “the short porch” since the stadium opened in 2009.
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