The New York Yankees are losing whatever grip they had atop the 2022 MLB standings. The Houston Astros began the second half of the season by sweeping the Yankees in a doubleheader, coming within just 2.5 games of the best American League record.
Just a month ago, the Yankees took an 8.5-game lead over the Astros by defeating Houston in their first matchup of the season. Since that contest, the Astros have beaten the Yankees in five of their six meetings.
By winning the season series against New York, Houston owns the tiebreaker should the two teams enter the playoffs with the same record. The rivals seem destined to meet in the postseason once again, where the Astros have dominated the Yankees in recent years.
The Astros eliminated the Yankees from the American League Championship Series in 2017 and 2019. In both series, Houston had home court advantage and secured a trip to the World Series in front of their fans. If the Astros and Yankees are tied for the top of the final standings, Houston will get the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage in the AL Championship Series.
Houston also beat New York in the 2015 American League Wild Card Game.
“I understand it’s a big story,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters after Thursday’s sweep. “I understand the season we’re in. It’s not going to matter unless it’s October. If we come back here in October, we’re going to show up. We’re going to expect to win. We think they’re really good. They’re really good. Don’t overdo this.”
Oddsmakers seem to agree with Boone. The Yankees remain the favorites to win the World Series at +300 odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. The Los Angeles Dodgers are second at +350 odds, followed by Houston at +450.
The Yankees hit .151 against the Astros this season.
That’s the second-worst batting average for any team versus another team in a single-season series (minimum 7 games).
The worst is .147 from Giants vs. Cubs in 2016.
– Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) July 22, 2022
The Yankees have scored the most runs in baseball, but the Astros have completely closed down their lineup. New York is hitting .151 against Houston in seven games.
The Astros lead the MLB with a 2.99 ERA. Houston’s bullpen has been particularly effective, posting a 2.71 ERA.
Even though the All-Star break has just ended, both teams are on track to win division titles. The Yankees have a 12-game lead in the AL East over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays. The Seattle Mariners are the only other team in the AL West to top .500, and they are 10 games behind the Astros for first place in the division.
The Minnesota Twins, the leader of the American League third division, are 14 games behind the Yankees in the standings.