Yankees lose argument and opener to Astros, 5-3
NEW YORK >> Joe Girardi came running out of the dugout on a freezing afternoon for his first argument of the season.
Houston's Jose Altuve had just scored the go-ahead run when pitcher Dellin Betances threw Carlos Correa's slow roller over first baseman Mark Teixeira and down the right-field line. The New York Yankees manager wanted plate umpire Dana DeMuth to call out Correa for running in fair territory.
"You have no lane to throw it, so Dellin's only option is to throw it and hit him," Girardi said. "I don't think that's what baseball wants, so, to me, it's something that probably needs to be looked at."
New York lost the argument and its opener.
Correa started the comeback with an RBI grounder and solo homer against Masahiro Tanaka, and the Astros went on to beat the Yankees 5-3 Tuesday to win four straight openers for the first time in franchise history.
The Yankees have lost five straight openers, matching the franchise record, and seven of eight.
"If you throw the ball into right field, it's like pass interference in football: a non-catchable ball," Teixeira said. "They're not going to call pass interference if the ball's way out of bounds."
There were tiny ice crystals on the infield when batting practice began. New Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro wore a balaclava. Houston ace Dallas Keuchel said the baseballs felt chalky, "like throwing a sandball."
Betances (0-1) relieved to start the eighth and walked Jose Altuve, who stole second. Correa hit a dribbler that Betances shot-putted over Teixeira.
"Maybe I was inside the line, but then he's got to hit me in the back in order for me to be called out," Correa said. "I was just trying to maybe confuse him. He's a pitcher. They don't play much defense."
After the four umpires conferred, the call was upheld and Girardi played the remainder of the game under protest.
"That ball was so high that in my judgment that was just an error, a bad throw," DeMuth said.
Luis Valbuena added a two-run single on Betances' 30th and final pitch for a 5-2 lead.
"Next time, I'll just try to hit him," Betances said. "It was just tough. I couldn't see Tex."
It was 27 degrees when batting practice began, and the temperature rose to 36 with a stiff wind and a cloudless sky at game time. The crowd seemed slightly more than half the announced attendance of 47,280 — the smallest for a Yankees home opener since 2003. This also was the lowest temperature for any regular-season Yankees game in the Bronx since that 2003 home opener.
The public address system played Foreigner's "Cold As Ice" before Colby Rasmus led off the second. But players did have a few amenities in a ballpark that opened eight years ago — vent blew hot air into the dugouts and the bat racks were heated, keeping the wood warm.
Keuchel (1-0) allowed Castro's two-run double in the second, which ended the AL Cy Young Award winner's 29-inning scoreless streak against New York, but gave up just three hits in seven innings, struck out five and walked four — his most since last June 20. He retired his final 11 batters.
Didi Gregorius homered on a 96 mph fastball in the eighth from Ken Giles, and Luke Gregerson got three straight outs for the save.
Castro, acquired from the Chicago Cubs to give the Yankees another right-handed bat, pulled an 85 mph cutter down the left-field line in the second for a 2-0 lead.
"I was a little nervous at the beginning," he said.
Left fielder Aaron Hicks, like Castro making his Yankees debut, misjudged Altuve's liner leading off the fourth and allowed it to soar over him for a leadoff double. Correa grounded into a forceout that scored Altuve.
"I just missed it. Plain and simple," Hicks said. "I got caught flat footed."
Tanaka gave up a sixth-inning homer to Correa that tied the score. He allowed two runs and four hits in 5 2-3 innings
"I think we played some pretty good baseball today against a good pitcher and a good team," Teixeira said. "It's just one bad inning."
DRESS FOR SUCCESS
Joe Spillo and John Welch of suburban Yorktown Heights, wearing yellow and green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles outfits, were in the second row of the Legends Suites luxury seats behind home plate after winning the tickets for 25 cents each from HBO's "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver." The host of the weekly show, claiming the Yankees are elitist, is selling seats to fans who promise to dress like "riff-raff."
Yankees: Right-hander Bryan Mitchell will be sidelined at least four months following surgery to repair a broken bone in his left big toe.
Collin McHugh (19-7) is scheduled to start for the Astros on Wednesday night against New York's Michael Pineda (12-10).