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Once again, Oswaldo Cabrera and Juan Soto fuel Yankees’ comeback over Astros

Oswaldo Cabrera runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run in Saturday's win. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)
Oswaldo Cabrera runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run in Saturday’s win. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)
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HOUSTON — When the Yankees first acquired Juan Soto, everyone predicted that he and another Bronx Bomber would form a deadly duo that could carry the offense.

No one assumed that the other guy would be Oswaldo Cabrera, though.

The two 25-year-olds have played significant parts in the Yankees’ first three games of the season, all comeback wins over the rival Astros. The latest, a 5-3 victory on Saturday night, saw the unlikely tandem homer in the seventh inning.

Cabrera, having already produced an Opening Day home run and a four-hit game, added a two-run shot off Astros reliever Bryan Abreu. The blast tied the game at three and set Soto up for his first dinger as a Yankee, a solo shot the other way into Minute Maid Park’s Crawford Boxes.

“He’s just picking it up, whatever he was doing in spring training,” Soto said of Cabrera. “I’m just happy for him. He’s been doing great so far and more than excited to see him keep doing it.”

“He’s a killer, and you sense he loves the competition at the highest level,” Aaron Boone added of Soto. “So you’re not gonna get in the way of greatness too much.”

Soto, who already had a game-saving throw in the opener and a three-hit day in Game 2, smacked his chest as he rounded first base on his home run. Cabrera, meanwhile, forcefully clapped along from the Yankees’ bench.

The two have spent some time together since spring training began, with Cabrera admiring Soto in the batting cage whenever he gets the chance.

“He’s an incredible guy,” Cabrera said. “He’s an amazing guy. He’s not just a good baseball player. Outside of the field, he’s an amazing person, too. Everybody loves that guy inside and outside of the field. But when we are in the cage, I’m like a kid watching a big guy.”

Speaking of kids, Anthony Volpe joined the party in the eighth, giving the Yankees an insurance run with his first longball of the season.

“The way we fight back shows how much we trust each other and how much we want to play for each other,” Volpe said. “We’re not gonna flinch from anybody. The Astros are a really good team that we’re playing against, but we trust our guys and we’re not going to give up.”

Prior to the homers, the Yankees had mostly just gotten in their own way.

Houston started the scoring in the second inning after a Cabrera throwing error and a hit-by-pitch, which José Abreu appeared to swing at. That led to Mauricio Dubón roping a two-run double over Soto’s head.

“When I came to the dugout, everybody got my back there,” Cabrera said of his error. “So that means a lot for me and that means a lot for all the team that we know that we are together here and we know that we care about each other.”

The fifth inning brought more mishaps, as a Yordan Alvarez grounder led to throwing errors from Volpe and Marcus Stroman. The Astros netted another run in the process.

While the errors hurt, the pitching line on Stroman’s Yankees’ debut looked solid. None of the runs were earned, and the right-hander gave the Yankees their first six-inning start of the season despite being forced to throw some extra pitches.

Stroman tossed 101 in total while tallying four hits, two walks and four strikeouts.

“I thought he was so sharp,” Boone said. “We’re probably a couple plays made from him throwing six shutout and then maybe even he goes deeper in the game. So I thought he was pinpoint. His misses were how we wanted them to be. I thought he was spot on.”

Astros starter Hunter Brown wasn’t as efficient, throwing 88 pitches over four innings. However, he didn’t allow an earned run either, as the Yankees’ lone score off the righty also came on an error. That happened in the third inning, when Abreu botched a hard-hit grounder off Rizzo’s bat.

With a season-opening series win secured, Clarke Schmidt will take his first turn in the rotation on Sunday. The right-hander is looking to build off a 2023 season that saw him get his first chance to be a full-time starter.

While Schmidt recorded a 4.64 ERA and took plenty of lumps, he also showed demonstrable growth while setting career-highs with 32 starts and 159 innings pitched.

J.P. France will toe the slab for Houston as the Astros look to avoid a four-game sweep. A rookie in 2023, the righty logged a 3.83 ERA while tallying 23 starts.

France will look to prevent a sweep on Sunday, but that could be a tall task with the Yankees clicking in the early going.

“It’s three games of a long, long season,” Boone said, “but I love our mindset. I love our compete. I love our hunger. I feel like if we can maintain that and go out, we can be the team we want to be. But we have a long way to go.”

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