Altuve homers twice as Astros sweep Yankees for first time

<p>
              Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) watches his second home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
            </p>

HOUSTON (AP) — Jose Altuve needed video review to confirm his first home run Wednesday night.

His second shot was a no-doubter — just like the Houston Astros‘ status as a team to beat in the American League.

Altuve hit two homers, Carlos Correa homered with three RBIs and the Astros completed their first ever sweep of the New York Yankees with an 8-6 win Wednesday night.

The Astros required late-game comebacks to win the first two games of the series but used a four-run fifth inning to break the finale open and held on for their sixth straight win despite a big eighth inning by the Yankees.

It’s the first time since 2004 the Astros have swept a homestand of at least two series. They beat the Athletics three times this weekend before the Yankees arrived.

The 5-foot-6 Altuve didn’t have an explanation for his recent power surge.

“I want to know, too to do it again,” he said. “I’m as surprised as you are. I’m not used to hitting this many homers in two or three games, but I’ll take it.”

Manager AJ Hinch said Altuve’s health and timing have contributed to the recent barrage, but he isn’t surprised by anything the 2017 AL MVP does.

“He’s seeing the ball, sure, picking the right pitches of course (but) he’s just pretty damn good,” he said.

Altuve hit his first one off James Paxton (1-2) to tie it at 1 in the first inning after Brett Gardner hit a leadoff homer for New York. Altuve’s hit was initially ruled a double, but a review showed it cleared the wall.

The Astros were up by 1 with no outs in the fifth inning when Altuve connected off Paxton again. The towering shot clanged off the light pole atop the wall in left field to make it 4-2.

A single by Michael Brantley chased Paxton, who was replaced by Tommy Kahnle. He was greeted by a two-run home run by Correa that extended Houston’s lead to 6-2. Houston made it 7-2 on an RBI single by Jake Marisnick with two outs in the inning.

Houston starter Collin McHugh (2-1) allowed four hits and two runs while striking out nine in six innings for his second straight win.

Yankees slugger Luke Voit hit a two-run homer off Josh James with no outs in the eighth, DJ LeMahieu hit an RBI double and Clint Frazier added a sacrifice fly to make it 7-6. There were two outs in the inning and a runner on third when Ryan Pressly took over and struck out pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez.

Pressly stayed on for the ninth, allowing one hit in a scoreless inning for his first save.

The Astros jumped on Paxton for eight hits and five runs in four-plus innings after he went 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA in four starts against them last year while with Seattle. He wasn’t helped when Gardner badly misplayed Yuli Gurriel’s drive to center, resulting in an RBI triple in the first.

“We got to tighten up a little bit, play a little bit better, but I believe we are really close to turning the corner … this is a little bump in the road,” manager Aaron Boone said. “That is inevitable in a major league season, and we will work our way out of it.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: Sanchez didn’t start Wednesday because of tightness in his lower leg. … 3B Miguel Andujar (right shoulder) made 25 throws from 60 feet Wednesday. “I think he felt a lot better than he expected,” Boone said. He will play catch and swing a bat Friday. If that goes well, he’ll start throwing from 90 feet Saturday. … OF Giancarlo Stanton (left biceps strain) hit off a tee on Wednesday. … OF Aaron Hicks (lower back strain) will do soft toss, hit off a tee and run on a treadmill this week, and Boone said they hope that by next Wednesday he’ll be hitting in the cage and be on the field running and throwing.

Astros: 3B Alex Bregman was out of the lineup Wednesday after leaving late in Tuesday night’s game with a sore hamstring. Manager AJ Hinch doesn’t think the problem is serious and hopes that he can return Friday.

YANKEES MOVE

New York optioned RHP Jonathan Loaisiga to Triple-A after Tuesday’s game and recalled RHP Joe Harvey from Scranton before Wednesday’s game. Harvey made his major league debut in the fifth inning and yielded one hit in two scoreless innings.

UP NEXT

Yankees: New York is off Thursday before beginning a series against the Chicago White Sox on Friday. The Yankees haven’t announced their Friday starter, but Boone said CC Sabathia will come off the injured list to make his first start of the season Saturday.

Astros: Houston has a day off Thursday and opens a three-game series at Seattle with Wade Miley (1-1, 2.31 ERA) on Friday night. Miley allowed four hits in 5 2/3 scoreless innings to get the win against Oakland in his last start.