The New York Yankees began the American League Championship Series (ALCS) against the Houston Astros on Oct. 12 for a seven-game series.
On Oct. 12, Masahiro Tanaka threw six shutout innings for the Yanks, and the Bombers bullpen added three more. The Yankees brought their best offensive foot forward, batting DJ LeMahieu first, followed by Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Edwin Encarnacion, Giancarlo Stanton, Cameron Maybin, Brett Gardner, Gary Sánchez, Gio Urshela and Didi Gregorius.
Stanton and Urshela both hit solo home runs, and 22-year-old Torres went 3-for-5 with a double and a homer, resulting in five runs batted in (RBI) during the 7-0 victory over the Astros in Houston. Torres is the youngest Yankees player to ever drive in five runs during a postseason game. Astros pitcher Zack Greinke gave up seven hits and only had six strikeouts in Houston’s loss.
During this postseason, the Yankees have outscored their opponents 30-7, and Torres has had a hand in almost a third of those runs. Torres was a rookie last season, hitting .271 with 24 home runs and .820 OPS (on base percentage plus slugging). This season, he’s brought up his home run number to 38 and an .872 OPS. Torres has made the All-Star team in both of his Major League Baseball (MLB) seasons. Torres is one of three MLB players to get an “All-Star headnod before their 23rd birthday,” according to The New York Times.
Houston came back firing on Oct. 13 by pitching Justin Verlander, who is going for the Cy Young award this year. Judge brought in the two runs for the Yanks with his two-run homerun in the fourth off of Verlander, but the Yankees advancements stopped there. After 11 innings tied at 2-2, the Astros came out on top in the bottom of the eleventh, using their home-field advantage to close the game and win it 3-2.
James Paxton was held to only 12 batters on Sunday night, while the Yanks bullpen came out to finish out the rest. CC Sabathia was brought in for the first time since the final week of the regular season, and only faced lefty Michael Brantley, fighting back from a 3-and-0 count to get a ground-out in the 10th.
With the ALCS now tied at 1-1, the Astros headed to Yankee Stadium on Oct. 15 for game No. 3 of the series. Luis Severino was pitching for the Yankees and gave up five hits and three walks within only four innings, forcing the bullpen to work in overtime, but did handle six strikeouts.
The Bombers had many chances to score against Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole, but they went 0-for-6 against the ace with runners in scoring position, giving Cole seven scoreless innings.
This lack of completion from the Yankees is obvious in the stats, as Houston had seven hits overall and scored four runs, while the Yanks had five hits overall and only scored one run. LeMahieu led the team with two hits, while Judge, Encarnación and Torres also got in a hit. Torres earned the only run and RBI for the team.
Astros right fielder Josh Reddick suffered some verbal abuse from Yankee fans, and complained that he saw multiple water bottles and souvenir baseballs thrown into the field. In the second inning, Reddick homered and was told “he sucked” for the remainder of the game.
Although this unsportsmanlike behavior came from the Yankees’ fans and should not be allowed, Yankees fans are New Yorkers and their intensity is one that is found only rarely.
Houston leads this seven-game series 2-1, but after last night’s rain delay, let’s hope the Bombers are well rested and ready to take on Greinke for a second time. The Astros released that Greinke will be pitching game No. 4, while Verlander is said to pitch game No. 5. Winner of the series is who wins four games first.
Can the Yankees get past Greinke and demonstrate their abilities against Verlander? Or are the Yanks done after the weekend? Let’s cross our fingers and hope the Yankees surprise us, as they always do.