Yankees avoid replay controversy as Juan Soto saves Opening Day with clutch defense

New York Yankees v Houston Astros

THE. YANKEES. WIN! Though it sure didn’t feel like it was going to end that way! New York kicked off Opening Day in Houston with a lackluster first half of the game, as Nestor Cortes faltered and the offense failed to cash in.

In the end, the Yanks left 10 runners on base on 3-of-11 hitting with RISP. They grounded into three double plays. They loaded the bases three times and managed just three total runs in those scenarios despite there being one or no outs. It wasn’t pretty.

But they got the job done. Cortes rebounded after allowing four runs one time through the Astros’ order. He finished five innings of work and allowed just two hits and no walks from innings 2-5. It could’ve been a lot worse.

As for the offense, the performance should’ve been better, but five runs ended up being enough. Juan Soto’s first RBI as a Yankee got the team on the board in the fifth inning. An Anthony Rizzo HBP and Anthony Volpe walk cut the Astros’ deficit from 4-1 to 4-3.

Houston didn’t score again after the second inning. An Oswaldo Cabrera homer tied things up in the sixth. And then a clutch Alex Verdugo sac fly scored Aaron Judge in the seventh to put the Yankees on top. They never looked back.

But they almost did! If Soto doesn’t make this incredible defensive play, this game is still going and we’re likely ripping our hair out.

Yankees avoid replay controversy as Juan Soto saves Opening Day with clutch defense

That play was challenged by the Astros, and Yankees fans were just waiting for it to be overturned and for the Clay Holmes meltdown to ensue. It was a bang-bang play, and the slow-motion replay looked like it may have been a borderline call. Jose Trevino’s tag grazed Mauricio Dubon’s jersey and was inches away from a completely different result.

Soto’s performance book-ended this Yankees win. He started the three-run offensive rally in the fifth and then made this instinctive defensive play to prevent the Astros from spoiling what was a gusty comeback.

Though the offensive performance was largely unimpressive, the unit grinded it out (as Boonie would say) against one of the best starters and bullpens in baseball. They logged eight hits and nine walks, testing the Astros pitching staff and defense for a majority of the contest.

The explosion is coming soon, but for now this result is more than acceptable for Yankees fans, who dealt with a difficult spring and weren’t at all thrilled to start the season on the road against one of their most hated rivals.