Astros sweep Yankees’ doubleheader as second half of MLB’s regular season gets underway

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The New York Yankees are in the midst of an incredible regular season, exiting the All-Star break at 64-28, miles ahead of their rivals in the AL East. 

Their regular season start is reminiscent of the 1998 Yankees – one of the greatest teams in baseball history – and a team that won 114 regular season games and went on to sweep the San Diego Padres in the World Series. 

J.J. Matijevic, #13 of the Houston Astros, celebrates with his teammates after hitting a walk-off single against the New York Yankees during game one of a doubleheader at Minute Maid Park on July 21, 2022 in Houston, Texas. 

J.J. Matijevic, #13 of the Houston Astros, celebrates with his teammates after hitting a walk-off single against the New York Yankees during game one of a doubleheader at Minute Maid Park on July 21, 2022 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

However, as the second half of Major League Baseball’s regular season got underway Thursday, the 2022 New York Yankees were given an interesting reminder of just how much pressure they are under after their hot start. 

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As the Houston Astros were in the midst of sweeping a doubleheader against the Yankees on Thursday, the second episode of Derek Jeter’s documentary – The Captain – was making its debut, highlighting the 1998 Yankees. 

“You want pressure? Win 114 games and understand what the pressure is that you better win,” legendary Yankees manager Joe Torre said in the documentary. “You start even when you start the postseason.”

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The 2022 Yankees are heading toward the same type of heat, and after being on the losing end of a doubleheader sweep on Thursday, New York is not blind to the pressure. 

“I understand it’s a big story,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I understand the season we’re in. It’s not going to matter unless (it’s) October. If we happen to come back here in October we’re going to show up. We’re going to expect to win. We think we’re really good. They’re really good. Don’t overstate this.”

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Boone was responding to a question regarding New York’s postseason struggles against Houston in recent years after the Astros won the season series over the Yankees. 

Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, #2, reacts after hitting a home run in the bottom of the first inning during the MLB doubleheader Game 2 between the New York Yankees and Houston Astros on July 21, 2022 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.  

Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, #2, reacts after hitting a home run in the bottom of the first inning during the MLB doubleheader Game 2 between the New York Yankees and Houston Astros on July 21, 2022 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.   (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The two squads are on a collision course to meet again in the postseason, as Houston crept closer to the Yankees for the best record in the American League. 

“It’s definitely news to watch us play each other,” New York’s Giancarlo Stanton said. “But at the end of the day, we’ve got to stay ahead of them for home-field (advantage).”

In game one, Houston’s J.J. Matijevic’s delivered a clutch walk-off single to give the Astros a 3-2 win to start off the day. 

“The bullpen did a great job and boy, that was an exciting win for us and the fans and for J.J.,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I was happy for J.J.”

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In the second game of the doubleheader, Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman combined for five RBI’s in a 7-5 victory. 

New York Yankees designated hitter Aaron Judge, #99, reacts after striking out in the top of the seventh inning during the MLB doubleheader Game 2 between the New York Yankees and Houston Astros on July 21, 2022 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.  

New York Yankees designated hitter Aaron Judge, #99, reacts after striking out in the top of the seventh inning during the MLB doubleheader Game 2 between the New York Yankees and Houston Astros on July 21, 2022 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.   (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“You want to get off to a good start, and I think everybody came in ready to play,” Bregman said. “This is what we expect out of this ball club every single night … and hopefully we can continue that for the second half.”

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The Yankees have now lost seven of their last 10 games, dating back to before the All-Star break, and all eyes will be on the AL’s two best teams as the calendar inches closer to October. 

“It’s just July, but it’s mid-July and these things count,” Baker said. “We’re trying to chase a team.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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