Charlie Morton, Astros aim to keep streaking vs. Yankees

By Larry Fleisher, The Sports Xchange  |  May 29, 2018 at 12:48 AM
share with facebook
share with twitter
| License Photo

Charlie Morton secured the final 12 outs in Game 7 at Dodger Stadium as the Houston Astros became world champions for the first time in team history.

Two months into Houston's title defense, Morton has not stopped winning.

Morton attempts to stay unbeaten Tuesday night when the Houston Astros continue a three-game series with the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

Morton is 7-0 with a 2.04 ERA heading into his 11th start of the season and the Astros are 7-3 in his 10 starts. It is the second straight season a Houston starter has begun with at least seven straight wins as Dallas Keuchel won his first nine decisions last season.

Morton is five wins shy of the Astros club record for consecutive wins in a single season. The record was set by Mark Portugal from July 11-Oct. 2, 1993 and matched by Wade Miller from July 7-Sept. 21, 2002.

Going back to last season Morton has won his last 10 regular-season decisions. He last pitched Thursday in an 8-2 win at Cleveland when he allowed two runs on five hits in six innings.

"Having my breaking ball and throwing my breaking ball for strikes (was key)," Morton said after throwing 37 curveballs and averaging 95.5 mph on his 32 four-seam fastballs. "That allows me to get back in counts. Even in the sixth inning there, I couldn't throw my fastball for a strike. I didn't know where the ball was going, and that's been a theme for me this year. I'm really not throwing the ball where I want to, but my secondary stuff has been good."

Morton also is the fifth Astros pitcher to begin a season 7-0 and is holding left-handed hitters to a .136 average (15-for-110) with 50 strikeouts.

Morton is 2-1 with a 3.98 ERA in three regular-season starts against the Yankees. He also went 1-1 in the ALCS against the Yankees, allowing seven runs in 3 2/3 innings in Game 3 and two hits in five innings in Houston's series-clinching 4-0 win.

Morton will be attempting to follow up a clean series-opening 5-1 win for the Astros, who are 14-5 in their last 19 games. After blowing a five-run lead in the ninth and falling in the 14th Sunday in Cleveland, Justin Verlander allowed a run in 6 2/3 innings while Jose Altuve hit a solo homer and J.D. Davis hit a three-run homer.

Altuve was 3-for-17 in the four-game series in Houston earlier this month but is batting .579 (11-for-19) with two homers and seven runs scored in his last four games.

New York's CC Sabathia will make his fifth attempt at becoming the 58th pitcher to reach 240 career wins. Sabathia is 2-0 with a 3.55 ERA this season.

Since allowing a run in seven innings on April 29 against the Los Angeles Angels, Sabathia is 0-1 with a 6.05 ERA in his last four starts.

The veteran left-hander last pitched Wednesday in a 12-10 loss at Texas when he allowed seven runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings.

"It just wasn't there for me today and with all the lefties in their lineup I needed a good, sharp slider and it was just hanging today," said Sabathia, who allowed a two-run homer on Nomar Mazara and a three-run homer to Ronald Guzman on sliders.

Sabathia did not face the Astros in Houston earlier this month. In three career regular-season starts he is 2-1 with a 4.15 ERA against the Astros, whom he faced in Game 3 and 7 of the ALCS last season.

Giancarlo Stanton did not play Monday after going 0-for-12 in the three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels, lowering his average to .202 at home and .246 overall. Stanton is hitting .199 vs. right-handed pitching but is 9-for-21 (.429) lifetime against Morton.

Without Stanton, the Yankees moved Gleyber Torres up to fifth, batted Bird fourth and Didi Gregorius seventh. Bird homered for New York's only run while Gregorius went 2-for-4, making him 6-for-74 this month.

"You can just see a real comfort up there," manager Aaron Boone said of Bird. "The fact that he's gotten some early results is nice but what I've been pleased with is really all of his at-bats have been competitive and you can tell he's in a good place."

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories