Correa's dribbler boosts Astros over Yanks 5-3 in opener
NEW YORK (AP) There were tiny ice crystals on the infield when batting practice began. New Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro wore a balaclava. Houston ace Dallas Keuchel said the baseballs felt chalky, ''like throwing a sandball.''
In cold like this, the Houston Astros' opener at Yankee Stadium was destined to turn on a goofy play.
Carlos Correa started the comeback with an RBI grounder and solo homer against Masahiro Tanaka, then reached on an eighth-inning dribbler that reliever Dellin Betances threw over first baseman Mark Teixeira as Jose Altuve scored from second with the tiebreaking run. The Astros went on to beat the Yankees 5-3 Tuesday to win four straight openers for the first time in franchise history.
''It seems like baseball's not meant to be played in 30-degree weather,'' Keuchel said.
Betances (0-1) relieved to start the eighth and walked Jose Altuve, who stole second. Playing his first opener after winning last season's AL Rookie the Year award, Correa hit a slow roller that Betances picked up, then shot-putted over Teixeira.
''Maybe I was inside the line, but then he's got to hit me in the back in order for me to be called out,'' Correa said. ''I was just trying to maybe confuse him. He's a pitcher. They don't play much defense.''
Yankees manager Joe Girardi argued with plate umpire Dana DeMuth that Correa should have been called out for running in fair territory. After the four umpires conferred, the call was upheld and Girardi played the remainder of the game under protest.
''That ball was so high that in my judgment that was just an error, a bad throw,'' DeMuth said.
Luis Valbuena added a two-run single on Betances' 30th and final pitch for a 5-2 lead.
''The personality of our team and strength of our team came out again like it did throughout last year,'' Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
It was 27 degrees when batting practice began, and the temperature rose to 36 with a stiff wind and a cloudless sky at game time.
The crowd seemed slightly more than half the announced attendance of 47,280 - the smallest for a Yankees home opener since April 8, 2003. This also was the lowest temperature for any regular-season Yankees game in the Bronx since that 2003 game against Minnesota.
The public address system played Foreigner's ''Cold As Ice'' before Colby Rasmus led off the second. But players did have a few amenities - vents blew hot air into the dugouts and the bat racks were heated, keeping the wood warm.
Keuchel (1-0) dominated, but not quite as much as in last October's AL wild-card game. He allowed Castro's two-run double in the second, which ended the AL Cy Young Award winner's 29-inning scoreless streak against New York, but gave up just three hits in seven innings, struck out five and walked four - his most since last June 20. He retired his final 11 batters.
''My stuff was moving all over the place, not by design, but just the wind,'' Keuchel said. ''I usually rub down the ball and use my sweat as a little bit of grit, but there was no sweat today.''
Didi Gregorius homered on a 96 mph fastball in the eighth from Ken Giles, who lost to Luke Gregerson in the competition for Astros closer. Gregerson got three straight outs in the ninth for the save.
Castro, acquired from the Chicago Cubs to give the Yankees another right-handed bat, pulled an 85 mph cutter down the left-field line in the second for a 2-0 lead.
Left fielder Aaron Hicks, like Castro making his Yankees debut, misjudged Altuve's liner leading off the fourth and allowed it to soar over him for a leadoff double. Correa grounded into a forceout that scored Altuve, then in the sixth tied the score when he sent a splitter over the right-field scoreboard. At 21 years, 196 days, he became the youngest Astros player to homer in an opener.
''He had to sort of do a knockdown 3-iron to hit it through the wind,'' Hinch said.
Houston's Tyler White, a 33rd-round draft pick in 2003, pinch hit in the seventh and singled in his big league debut. He was hit on his right index finger by the first pitch of Johnny Barbato's major league career, and X-rays were negative.
White had about 30 family and friends at the game. He thought to himself ''it's another spring training at-bat or it's an at-bat in low A.''
''It was a little bit of nerves,'' he said, the ball sitting on a shelf in his locker.
DRESSED FOR SUCCESS
Joe Spillo and John Welch of suburban Yorktown Heights, wearing yellow and green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles outfits, were in the second row of the Legends Suites luxury seats behind home plate after winning the tickets for 25 cents each from HBO's ''Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.'' The host of the weekly show, claiming the Yankees are elitist, is selling seats to fans who promise to dress like ''riff-raff.''
Astros: OF Evan Gattis, recovering from sports hernia surgery, is expected to begin an injury rehab assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi on Thursday.
Collin McHugh (19-7) is scheduled to start for the Astros on Wednesday night against New York's Michael Pineda (12-10).