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Aaron Boone: Fans Brought ‘Playoff Atmosphere’ to Yankees-Astros Game

In Wednesday’s Hot Clicks: Yankees fans let the Astros hear it, a grand slam from a pitcher and more.

They rose to the occasion

One of baseball’s biggest pandemic-era questions was answered on Tuesday night: Are fans still going to have the same hatred for the Astros?

Leading up until the postponement of the 2020 MLB season last spring, the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal had been the biggest story in the sport for months (probably even the biggest story in sports). The delay and subsequent empty-stadium season led people to wonder if the disgust for Houston would be the same whenever fans were allowed back into ballparks. The answer, at least in the Bronx, was yes.

Yankees fans, now having gone more than a decade without a World Series win, are irate that the cheating Astros beat them in the 2019 ALCS. Tuesday night’s game was the first opportunity Yankees fans had to see the Astros in person since the scandal, and they came prepared.

Some had their plans dashed, though. SI’s Stephanie Apstein was among the Bleacher Creatures and spoke to one fan who was told by stadium security that he wouldn’t be allowed to wear his $85 Oscar the Grouch costume inside. She also captured this exquisite five-second video clip of a fan’s inflatable trash can being confiscated and his being seamlessly handed a Bud Light tall boy.

There were only 10,850 fans in the stands, but the crowd sounded three times as big. The vociferous boos started from the moment the visiting lineup was announced.

When José Altuve led off the game, he was greeted with a deafening “f--- Altuve” chant.

There was also a blanket “f--- the Astros” chant during Michael Brantley’s first at bat.

Alex Bregman got the classic “ass----” chant directed his way and the crowd briefly went silent after he hit a no-doubt home run, but he heard hearty boos as he rounded the bases.

It was Altuve, though, who was the focus of the fans’ ire. When he came to the plate in the seventh, the chant was “cheater.”

The intensity was palpable watching on TV (despite ESPN’s goofy Star Wars–themed broadcast) and it wasn’t overlooked by those on the field.

“It felt like a playoff atmosphere. Amazing 10–12,000 fans, whatever was in there. The energy that was created, we haven’t seen that since 2019,” manager Aaron Boone told reporters. “It was a fun game to be a part of. Guys did a lot of really good things tonight defensively, some big at bats, some big pitching performances, so it was a fun night to play the game.

“You have games every now and then in the regular season that feel big, feel important, and obviously the crowd being as engaged as they were from the onset, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an extra level of energy.”

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A good song

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