Yankees' 13-game gauntlet ends with toughest test in Astros: 'We're looking forward to it'

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Many pointed to the Yankees’ 13-game stretch against the Rays, Blue Jays, and Astros as the real test to see just how good the league-leading Bombers are.

So far, the Yanks have passed the first three legs of that test with playing colors, taking five of six from Tampa and two of three from Toronto, winning four of the six road games that were on this 13-game gauntlet.

Now, the final, and perhaps toughest, test arrives starting Thursday night, when the hated Astros come to town.

“Another great club,” Aaron Judge said. “They’re doing well, they’re leading their division. I know they have a great pitching staff, and a great offense. What [Yordan] Alvarez is doing has been fun to watch from afar.”

The big lefty slugger Alvarez pummeled two more home runs on Wednesday afternoon against the Mets to bring his total to 21, then Judge answered back with a multi-homer game of his own to extend his league-leading mark to six again. Those two bats will highlight two potent offenses that are among the best in the league, while the pitching matchups will be highlighted by Justin Verlander facing off against Luis Severino on Friday, before Gerrit Cole is back on the bump against his former team on Saturday.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Judge said. “It’s gonna be a big four-game stretch with them.”

Houston has emerged as the Yankees’ clear competition for the best team in the American League, and they will finally get to face off for the first time this season beginning Thursday night. The Yanks have four games left of that 13-game span, and the best has been saved for last.

“This has been a long stretch we’re gonna have here,” Judge said. “But we’re looking forward to it.”

Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1

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