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Aaron Boone: Yankees' Struggles vs. Astros Don't Matter Unless It's the Playoffs

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 22, 2022

Elsa/Getty Images

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone downplayed his club's struggles against the Houston Astros this year after losing both ends of a doubleheader Thursday.

The Astros won the regular-season series against the Yanks 5-2, including wins in each of the teams' last three meetings. Boone, though, insisted those results aren't cause for concern as long as they're not replicated in the playoffs.

"I understand it's a big story," Boone told reporters. "I understand the season we're in. It's not going to matter unless [it's] October. If we happen to come back here in October we're going to show up. We're going to expect to win. We think we're really good. They're really good. Don't overstate this."

While the season series appears lopsided on the surface, the total score was a more modest 27-22 in favor of Houston. None of the games were decided by more than three runs.

The reaction is likely inflated by the Astros' recent postseason success against the Yankees. They knocked them out of the playoffs in 2015, 2017 and 2019.

Another playoff matchup is growing more likely with each passing month as the clubs establish themselves as the top teams in the American League. The Yankees (64-30) are 2.5 games ahead of the Astros (61-32) and then there's a significant drop off to the Tampa Bay Rays (51-41) in the race for home-field advantage.

If Houston ultimately passes New York atop the AL standings, the wins from the head-to-head battles could have more long-term meaning.

"It's definitely news to watch us play each other," Yanks outfielder Giancarlo Stanton said. "But at the end of the day, we've got to stay ahead of them for home-field."

After the Astros completed Thursday's doubleheader sweep, manager Dusty Baker was more focused on the team's lead over the red-hot Seattle Mariners (51-42), who won 14 straight games leading into MLB's recently completed All-Star break.

"This is huge for us to start out 2-0, to take our lead back to double digits," Baker said.

A lot can change between now and October, especially with the trade deadline looming and Washington Nationals superstar Juan Soto among the players who could shift MLB's balance of power before the stretch run.

The Yankees and Astros have already built strong cases as perhaps the league's best teams, though, with the NL's Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets and reigning World Series champion Atlanta Braves also in the discussion.

So Boone is right to suggest the small sample size from this year's regular-season meetings don't carry a lot of weight in the big picture.

His tune may change if the Astros knock the Yankees out of the playoffs once again, though.

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