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Josh Donaldson, Matt Carpenter come up empty in Yankees’ loss

HOUSTON — A new black hole emerged on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park — otherwise known as the Nos. 5 and 6 spots in the Yankees’ lineup.

Josh Donaldson and Matt Carpenter combined to go 0-for-7 with seven strikeouts and a walk in Game 1 of the ALCS, a 4-2 loss to the Astros.

The duo had a chance to come through with a big hit in the third inning of a 1-1 game after the Yankees put runners on second and third with one out against Justin Verlander. But Donaldson struck out on three pitches before Carpenter worked a full count and then struck out to end the Yankees’ best chance of doing damage against Verlander. The 39-year-old ace went on to retire the final 11 batters he faced.

In the eighth inning, Donaldson came up as the potential tying run with a man on first and two outs in a 4-2 game. He got to a full count versus Rafael Montero and drew a walk before being pinch run for by Oswald Peraza.

Josh Donaldson and Matt Carpenter
Josh Donaldson and Matt Carpenter
AP; N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

The Astros then brought on closer Ryan Pressly to face Carpenter, who got into a 2-2 count before whiffing at a curveball to end the threat, finishing his 0-for-4 night with four strikeouts.

“I gotta find a way to have better at-bats,” said Carpenter, who missed the final two months of the regular season with a broken foot. “We’re facing good pitching, but that’s what’s going to happen when you get this far in the postseason.”

Donaldson’s struggles on Wednesday were a continuation from the ALDS. The third baseman collected a pair of hits in Game 1 against the Guardians, but in five games since then, he is 2-for-17 with four walks and nine strikeouts.

“They got him a couple times tonight, but he’s in the fight,” manager Aaron Boone said.

The 36-year-old Donaldson struggled offensively for much of the regular season before finding his groove for a solid stretch in September. But he has not been able to carry any of that momentum into the postseason.

Carpenter, meanwhile, fell to 0-for-6 with six strikeouts in these playoffs. Wednesday was the first game he started after making two pinch-hit appearances in the ALDS and striking out both times.

After coming back from the broken foot, the 36-year-old Carpenter got a week’s worth of live at-bats before the playoffs began that proved to the Yankees he was healthy enough to make the roster. The results, though, have yet to follow.

“I’m physically fine,” he said. “I don’t want to allude that there’s something wrong. I’m good to go, just gotta get the timing there and start having better at-bats.”

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