Houston closer Ken Giles took the idea of being hard on yourself to a new level.
Not long after Gary Sanchez delivered a knockout blow for the New York Yankees on Tuesday night with a three-run homer off Ken Giles in the ninth inning, the Houston closer landed a shot of his own.
Giles punched himself twice - with the second landing on his face - as he left one batter after Sanchez's go-ahead homer. A somber Giles said the outburst was fueled by frustration.
"Obviously, because I just screwed up a win," he said. "We should have won this game. We should have bounced back. I didn't give our team a chance. Of course I'm going to be frustrated over that."
The implosion by Giles spoiled a splendid outing by Justin Verlander, and the Yankees got a 4-0 victory after Jordan Montgomery's start was cut off by tightness in his left elbow.
Verlander tied a career-high by striking out 14 and allowed just three hits - all singles - in eight innings. Giles (0-1) took over and Aaron Judge singled to start the ninth for New York's first hit since the third inning. Didi Gregorius doubled to the gap in left field before Sanchez's home run sailed over the fence in center field for a 3-0 lead.
Aaron Hicks followed with single to chase Giles. An emotional Giles punched himself in the chest with his still-gloved right hand while walking off the field before moving the glove to his left hand and throwing a blow to his face. He arrived in the dugout, picked up a bat and slammed it down, then kicked it before retreating to the clubhouse.
Sanchez has seven homers and 24 RBIs in his last 17 games after a 2-for-36 start. His hit helped New York to its 10th win in 11 games after the Yankees couldn't break through against Verlander.
"It's definitely important when you hit a home run like that and you're able to win the game," Sanchez said through a translator. "It's important because you won the game. But the thing is that it's not just me doing this. You have all the guys on this team ... that can do that. At the end of the day it's a group effort."
Sanchez connected on a hanging slider.
"Made a horrible pitch. He deserved to hit it over the fence," Giles said.
Tyler Austin scored on a wild pitch by Will Harris with two outs.
Houston had won seven straight at home against Yankees, including last year's AL Championship Series. This was the first time in seven games New York scored more than one run at Minute Maid Park.
New York used five relievers when Montgomery came out after one inning and seven pitches but the Yankees wound up pitching their first shutout this season. The 25-year-old left-hander appeared to wince after his last pitch and shook his arm. Montgomery will return to New York on Wednesday to be evaluated by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad, and manager Aaron Boone said a disabled list stint is probable.
"It's tight and we're just going to go find out and hopefully, it's something minor," Boone said. "Monty is in a pretty good frame of mind maybe thinking it's not (a ulnar collateral ligament tear), but we won't have anything until we get the pictures and the evaluation."
This was the sixth start this season for Montgomery, who is 2-0 with a 3.62 ERA. His velocity was about 88 mph, 3 mph below his average this year.
"No need to keep throwing through something like this when maybe it can be a quick fix," he said. "It's not like I'm hurting really that bad, just kind of enough to be there and kind of scare you a little bit."
Domingo German, who could take over Montgomery's starting spot, scattered four hits over four innings, Chad Green pitched the sixth, Dellin Betances yielded one hit and struck out three in the seventh and David Robertson (2-1) retired the first two batters of the eighth before a single by Jose Altuve. Robertson struck out Carlos Correa to end the inning, and Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth.
Verlander, who lowered his ERA to 1.13, pitched around a pair of singles in the second inning and gave up a bunt single to Gregorius with two outs in the third. He retired the next 16 batters, striking out nine.
"Started off with a really good fastball and slider, really good control and then as the game went along my curveball got sharper and sharper and was able to go to that later in the game with some guys that maybe I'd shown a lot of curveballs to," he said.
Verlander fanned 14 for the third time, then first since an outing against the Yankees on Aug. 6, 2012. He struck out 13 in a complete-game win in Game 2 of last October's ALCS.
Austin was back in the lineup after serving a four-game suspension for charging the mound against the Red Sox last month.
New York sent OF Clint Frazier to Triple-A Scranton from Class A Tampa on Tuesday. ... The Yankees agreed to a minor league contract with RHP David Hale, who will report to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
ROMINE AND GRAY
Boone has said in the past that he doesn't favor letting a pitcher have a "personal catcher," but he's going to make an exception for Sonny Gray. Romine has 15.63 ERA in two starts with Sanchez and improved his ERA to 3.92 in his fourth start with Austin Romine on Monday night. After the game he said that he'd try to start Romine with Gray in the future.
Yankees: Luis Severino (4-1, 2.61 ERA) will start for New York on Wednesday night. He allowed five hits and three runs in seven innings of his last start but did not factor in the decision in New York's 4-3 win over the Angels in 10 innings.
Astros: Dallas Keuchel (1-4, 4.00) is scheduled to start for Houston on Wednesday. The left-hander is 4-2 with a 1.41 ERA in six regular season starts against the Yankees, and is 2-1 with a 2.04 ERA in three playoff starts against them.
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