Yankeemetrics: August 19-21 (Astros)

Brandon McCarthy dominated the Astros in Thursday's win. (Photo: Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Brandon McCarthy dominated the Astros in Thursday’s win. (Photo: Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Houston, we have a problem
Entering 2014, the Yankees were 13-2 vs the Astros; following Tuesday’s loss in the series opener, they had more losses in four games this season against the Astros (3) than in all other seasons combined.

With the game tied 4-4 and two men on base in the ninth inning, Chris Carter swung away on a 3-0 pitch from David Robertson and sent it over the fence for a game-winning homer.

Robertson is the first Yankee pitcher to allow a homer in the ninth inning or later on a 3-0 count in the pitch-count era (since 1988). Carter is the first Astro to hit a go-ahead homer in the ninth inning or later against the Yankees.

Pitching on his 36th birthday, Chris Capuano allowed four runs over 5 1/3 innings and received a no-decision, remaining winless in five starts with the Yankees.

He is the fourth Yankee pitcher to go winless in his first five starts with the team, despite allowing no more than four runs in each game. The others are Duke Maas (1958), Mike Witt (1990) and Chad Gaudin (2009).

With the loss, the Yankees still haven’t won a game started by a pitcher celebrating his birthday since August 4, 2001, when a 39-year-old Roger Clemens helped the team beat the Angels 5-4 on his birthday.

Pineda can’t hit
It was a familiar script for the Yankees in Wednesday night’s loss – a solid outing by the starting pitcher followed by a bullpen implosion and no late-inning offense to pick up the slack.

Michael Pineda, pitching for the second time since coming off the DL, had another strong effort with two runs allowed on four hits over six innings. Pineda has yet to give up more than two runs or five hits in any of his six starts with the Yankees.

He is the first pitcher in at least the last 100 years to allow two runs or fewer and five hits or fewer in each of his first six starts with the Yankees. Pineda is also the only Yankee pitcher in the last 100 years to begin a season with six straight starts of no more than two runs and five hits allowed in each game.

Jacoby Ellsbury‘s two-out squeeze bunt single in the fifth inning scored Ichiro Suzuki from third to give the Yankees a brief 2-1 lead.

It was the first go-ahead bunt hit (not sacrifice) by a Yankee that late in the game since Joe Girardi had one in the seventh inning on August 5, 1996 against the Royals. The last Yankee to lay down a successful bunt hit after the second inning with two outs was Bucky Dent on May 26, 1981 vs Orioles.

Marvelous McCarthy
The Yankees avoided a sweep by the lowly Astros with a 3-0 win on Thursday afternoon, thanks to a brilliant performance from Brandon McCarthy.

McCarthy threw a four-hit shutout with zero walks and eight strikeouts and was in complete control the entire game.

He is the first Yankee to throw a shutout with four hits or fewer allowed, zero walks and at least eight strikeouts at home since Mike Mussina on September 28, 2001. The last Yankee pitcher acquired mid-season to throw a shutout in the same season was Mike Witt on August 18, 1990 against the Mariners.

The Astros Dallas Keuchel nearly matched McCarthy, going the distance with zero walks, too. This is the first time the Yankees have been involved in a nine-inning game in which both teams’ starting pitchers threw complete games and had zero walks since August 3, 1983 in a 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays (Ron Guidry and Jim Clancy were the pitchers).

The game took just two hours and seven minutes, the shortest nine-inning game at Yankee Stadium since a 2-0 win by the Yankees over the Twins on June 18, 1996.

Despite the win, the offense continues to underperform with its 10th straight game scoring four or fewer runs. This is the second time this season they’ve had a double-digit streak of games with no more than four runs scored (had a 12-game streak from May 30-June 11). The last time the Yankees had two separate 10-game streaks of scoring fewer than five runs in a single season was 1991.

Former ESPN researcher; forever baseball and Yankees fan. Now living in northern Vermont and the color of the front door of our house is Yankee blue. Also write about college football and basketball and the NFL. Bleed Huskies blue (that's UConn, of course).