September 2, 2023 | 10:23 p.m
HOUSTON – The kids are fine.
Coming up with a squad of six players aged 24 and under – five of whom are still rookies – is bound to come with plenty of ups and downs.
But the Yankees got enough good Saturday night to come away with another win, 5-4 over the Astros at Minute Maid Park — and all six youngsters had a hand in the win.
23-year-old Oswald Peraza had his most productive game of the season with a three-hit night.
The bottom four hitters in the lineup – Austin Wells (24), Iverson Pereira (22), Peraza and Osvaldo Cabrera (24) – each drove in an inning.
Jason Dominguez (20) and Anthony Volpe (22) also scored runs.
Volpi also demonstrated a more robust defense by throwing a jumping putt from the hole at shortstop in the fifth inning to help another rookie, right-hander Johnny Brito, who pitched 3²/₃ scoreless innings relief.
Overall, the young defenders represented themselves well – with some help, of course, from reliable old Aaron Judge – to claim the Yankees’ second straight win (67-69) – the first time they’ve achieved that feat since late June.
They have now won five of their last six matches.
Clay Holmes made a save in the ninth inning, much to the disappointment of the crowd of 41,427.
Luis Severino, who has come off two consecutive goalless matches, was not as sharp on Saturday while having to expend more energy.
The right-hander needed 104 pitches to finish four innings — allowing four runs on six hits and a walk — with the Astros (77-60) erroring out on 41 of those pitches.
Giancarlo Stanton led off the second half with a single before the bottom of the Yankees lineup came against Astros right-hander Hunter Brown.
Volpi and Pereira both drew runs to load the bases with one out before Peraza delivered a hit single to shallow center field for a 1-0 lead.
Cabrera came next and trailed 1-2 before shooting some close pitches to draw a walk that forced Volpi to make it 2-0.
But after DJ LeMahieu double-played to miss an opportunity to do more damage, the Astros tied it right in the bottom of the inning.
Severino walked Jose Abreu on a 13-run home run to lead off the inning before Michael Brantley holed an 0-2 cutter for a two-run homer to make it 2-2.
He threw 40 pitches in that inning, though only one runner reached base, but he escaped further damage.
Judge led off the third inning by crushing his second home run in as many nights and his 31st in his 82nd game of the season. It was a 428-foot shot that put the Yankees up 3-2.
The Astros took off in the bottom of the fourth on another two-run shot by Severino.
Brantley collected a leadoff single before rookie catcher Jaener Diaz, on the seventh pitch of his at-bat, hooked a two-run homer the other way to make it 4–3.
But the Yankees again had an immediate answer in the top of the fifth.
Judge kicked off with a walk and then moved from first to third when Dominguez hit a hard ground ball that went under the glove of second baseman Mauricio Dupont on an error.
After Volpe was walked to load the bases, Wells hit a sacrifice fly that tied the score.
Pereira then lined a solo at center field to put the Yankees ahead 5-4.