Try telling Astros manager Dusty Baker that Yankee Stadium was just 20 percent full.
After his team was mercilessly booed Tuesday during its first trip to The Bronx since being branded as cheaters, Baker’s only solace was that emotions didn’t escalate to the point of fear.
“Nothing surprised me,” Baker said after the Yankees’ 7-3 win. “At least there wasn’t any violence. They can say whatever they want. It sounded like a packed house tonight even though it wasn’t. We have to accept it. We kind of expected that reception. We’ll probably get more of the same [Wednesday] and the next day.”
Third baseman Alex Bregman — one of the Astros’ holdovers from 2017, when they won the World Series with the aid of stealing signs and alerting batters of pitches via banging on a trash can — received the second-loudest boos from the COVID-19-reduced sellout crowd of 10,850.
Fans chanted “a–hole” and pointed at him in the first inning, right before he homered. But later Bregman bare-handed a two-out, bases-loaded grounder and threw the ball away, allowing all three runs to score in the sixth.
“We tried to focus on taking good swings, competing and worrying about baseball,” Bregman said.
Jose Altuve heard “F— Altuve” chants throughout the game. The 2017 American League MVP — he finished ahead of Aaron Judge — went 0-for-4.
“The fans were extremely hard on Altuve tonight,” Baker said. “That has nothing to do it with it, but he’s exerting a lot of effort. Maybe too much effort, if there is such a thing.”
The Astros have faced wrath in visiting ballparks early this season, after playing mostly crowdless games last season. Altuve is the face of the scandal for Yankees fans, especially after hitting the walk-off, series-clinching home run in the 2019 ALCS.
“He’s a really good player and a good teammate,” Bregman said. “He competes every time he is on the field. He is going to handle it great and continue to work hard and be a key piece of this team.”