Javier (13K) leads Houston’s ‘shocking’ combined no-hitter against the Yanks

NEW YORK — A sold-out crowd swarmed Yankee Stadium on a sunny Saturday afternoon in hopes of possibly seeing a no-hitter, which is always lucky with ace Gerrit Cole on the mound. Instead, they attended the release party of Astros pitcher Cristian Javier, who outplayed Cole and the Yankees and helped make history in the process.

Javier, who signed for $10,000 as an undrafted free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2015, combined with relievers Hector Neris and Ryan Pressly to eclipse the Yankees’ $324 million starter by throwing a no-hitter combined in Houston’s scintillating 3 -0 win over the Bronx.

“A no-hitter is pretty special anyway, wherever you do it,” Pressly said. “The fact that it’s here at Yankee Stadium, it’s a really good formation there. They’re good hitters. It’s special, but I think if you throw a no-hitter, in general, it’s okay be special.

Javier, behind a deceptive fastball that averaged 94.6 mph and was extremely well located, threw seven innings without a hit before Neris worked around two walks and a few tight calls in the eighth, then Pressly – who made blasting the stoppage in Thursday’s loss to New York — rebounded with a 1-2-3 ninth. Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton made the final, smashing in at third base to spark a celebration on the diamond.

Javier hit a career-high 13 batters, throwing a career-high 115 pitches (71 strikes) in the process. That’s the most strikeouts by a Houston starter since Cole struck out 14 on Sept. 24, 2019.

“Everything about pitching is about control, control, control,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Everyone talks about speed all the time, but speed without command and control isn’t good. He was outplaying some really good hitters there. It’s a day he’ll never forget, and we won’t. more.

Javier has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen for the past two years, but the Astros believe his future is as a starter. His performance on a big stage against the Yankees helped boost his status.

“I was just trying to stay calm,” said Javier, whose calm demeanor earned him the nickname ‘El Reptile’ from his teammates.

“He shows no emotion no matter how big the stage – the playoffs, the World Series,” he said. “The guy is the same. He can give up five [runs], he can throw a no-hitter — it’s still the same guy. Was I surprised he did? No, just because I know how good he is.

Neris compared Javier to teammate Justin Verlander and Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez.

“He’s a young man, but he can be in the game for a long time,” Neris said.

The mighty Yankees, the team with the best baseball record behind a vaunted offense that leads the major leagues in runs scored, home runs and OPS, have been held to one point in back-to-back losses to Houston.

It’s the first time the Yankees haven’t been hit since six Astros pitchers combined not to hit them on June 11, 2003, at the old Yankee Stadium. They’re the only two hits thrown against the Yankees since 1958. The Astros are no strangers to celebrating at Yankee Stadium, after beating the Yankees in the 2015 AL Wild Card Game and eliminating them in the ALCS in 17 and 19. .

The Astros circled this series of games on their schedule — nine in a row against the Mets and Yankees — and played their best baseball of the season so far. They are 4-1 in that streak, with the only loss coming Thursday when they blew a three-point lead in ninth.

“A lot of people talk about the Yankees and they don’t talk a lot about the Astros,” Maldonado said. “I feel like we’re still the same team. We love competing there, especially against good teams. We felt like the playoffs were coming into the series.

Josh Donaldson was the only Yankee to reach base against Javier. He walked in the first inning on a tight 3-2 pitch in which he held on on a controlling swing, and he again reached seventh on a throwing error from third baseman Alex Bregman .

“Today was his day,” Donaldson said. “Obviously it’s shocking; I mean we’ve got really good training. He made it tough today. He fell behind a few times and then did a really good job of locating when he was behind. He was really good.

Javier was at 91 pitches in six innings when pitching coach Josh Miller told Baker he might have 15 pitches left. He ended up throwing 24 in the seventh, striking out Gleyber Torres on a 3-2 break ball to keep the non-hitter alive.

“Honestly, I didn’t even know how many pitches I had at that point,” Javier said. “I was just trying to stay focused, trying to stay in tune with Maldonado. He gave me good energy throughout the game.

It’s the 14th no-hitter in Astros history and the first since Verlander turned the third of his career on Sept. 1, 2019, in Toronto. Houston’s combined hit at Yankee Stadium 19 years ago came after starter Roy Oswalt left with an injury after an inning and relievers Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner left him. have finished.

Cole, who hit in the eighth inning in his last start, allowed a hit just two out in the fifth and kept the Astros off the board until rookie JJ Matijevic homers on the tape measure to right field with two outs in the seventh. Jose Altuve added a solo homer in eighth reliever Michael King.

“We have two world-class offenses here today,” Cole said. “Obviously I personally have a ton of respect for the guys on the other side of the pitch. Hat tip to Javier. Special day for him.

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