No team in baseball history ever has gone two straight games without registering a hit. For a while Sunday, it appeared the team with the best record in baseball and the most runs scored in the American League might become the first.
One day after three Houston pitchers tossed a combined no-hitter against the Yankees, righty Jose Urquidy carried another no-no bid into the seventh inning. But Aaron Boone’s team rallied back from a three-run hole and pulled out a split of a four-game series against the nemesis Astros on Aaron Judge’s walk-off homer for a gutty 6-3 win in 10 innings at the Stadium.
Giancarlo Stanton broke up Urquidy’s no-hit bid with a one-out home run to center in the seventh, ending a 16-inning hitless string for the Yankees since Friday night’s eighth inning. DJ LeMahieu then clocked a game-tying two-run shot in the eighth, before Judge won it in the 10th with a three-run homer to left — his MLB-leading 28th of the season — off reliever Seth Martinez to complete the Yanks’ MLB-high 22nd comeback victory of the season.
The Yanks had a chance to win in the ninth after Gleyber Torres walked with one out before stealing second and advancing to third on a throwing error by catcher Jason Castro. But Torres fell down while taking his secondary lead and got doubled off third on Aaron Hicks’ strikeout before being helped off the field and removed from the game with an apparent leg injury.
Michael King also worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the 10th as the Yanks (53-20) avoided their second three-game losing streak of the season.
“We’ll be ready to play and go out there and try and get a W, not worried in the least about how we’ll react,” Yanks manager Aaron Boone said before Sunday’s game. “I know we’re strong and will turn the page from [Saturday] and go out and get after it and hope to salvage a series.”
Yankees starter Nestor Cortes also was looking to bounce back from a rare rocky start this season in which he was tagged for three home runs in 4 ¹/₃ innings in a 5-4 loss to the Rays. Cortes was rocked for a first-pitch homer by leadoff batter Jose Altuve in the first inning, and the lefty departed trailing by three runs after five.
Altuve, who also had homered in the eighth inning of Saturday’s game, again heard heavy boos and vulgar chants of his last name from the Stadium crowd for his part in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. The former AL MVP quieted the derision when he belted his seventh leadoff homer of the season to put the Yanks in a quick 1-0 hole.
Cortes didn’t allow another hit until Yuri Gurriel’s infield single with two outs in the fourth, recording six of his seven strikeouts in that span. But Jeremy Pena followed with a double, and both runners scored on Mauricio Dubon’s single to center for a 3-0 Houston lead.
The Yanks extended their streak of innings without a hit to 16 since LeMahieu’s single in the eighth inning of Friday night’s game. Urquidy retired the first 11 batters he faced until a walk to Anthony Rizzo in the fourth. The hitless string by the Yanks marked their longest in at least 70 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
After Rizzo was retired on a fly ball for the first out of the seventh, Stanton wiped out Urquidy’s chance at history with a first-pitch homer into the netting above Monument Park, his 17th of the season, for a 3-1 game.
No team ever has pitched a no-hitter or been no-hit in back-to-back games, although the St. Louis Browns did it to the White Sox on back-to-back days in 1917. Ernie Koob tossed a no-no on May 5 with Bob Groom completing his gem in the second game of a doubleheader the following day.
LeMahieu drew the Yanks even by crushing a 2-2 slider from righty Phil Maton into the left-field seats with two down in the eighth.