The Yankees and Astros play Game 5 of the best-of-seven ALCS on Wednesday afternoon at 5:08 at Yankee Stadium. The series is tied, 2-2, after the Yankees' come-from-behind victory in Game 4.
|George Springer, CF||Brett Gardner, LF|
|Josh Reddick, RF||Aaron Judge, RF|
|Jose Altuve, 2B||Gary Sanchez, C|
|Carlos Correa, SS||Didi Gregorius, SS|
|Yuli Gurriel, 1B||Aaron Hicks, CF|
|Alex Bregman, 3B||Starlin Castro, 2B|
|Carlos Beltran, DH||Greg Bird, 1B|
|Marwin Gonzalez, LF||Todd Frazier, 3B|
|Brian McCann, C||Chase Headley, DH|
Who is starting for the Yankees?
RHP Masahiro Tanaka, who allowed two runs on four hits while walking one and striking out three in 6.0 innings in Game 1.
Who is starting for the Astros?
RHP Dallas Keuchel, who tossed 7.0 shutout innings while allowing four hits, walking one, and striking out 10 in Game 1.
1. Tanaka repeat
In Game 1, Tanaka was able to handle the Astros by throwing an unusual number of four-seam fastballs and staying away from his signature splitter. This may have been the game plan from the beginning so that he can provide a different look in Game 5. Whatever the pitch sequence, Tanaka will have to continue the Yankees dominance over the Astros, but also figure out a way to contain Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa (hitting .310 combined in ALCS).
2. Ride the momentum
The baseball cliche goes, "Momentum is only as good as the next day's starting pitcher." This can be taken both ways: Tanaka's performance as noted above and in regard to Keuchel. The Yankees offense has displayed a better approach against two lesser Astro starters, and they'll have to take that into their Game 5 matchup against Keuchel. They will be hard pressed to bounce Keuchel from the game with a barrage of hits, but working his pitch count to get him removed by the end of six innings could allow enough time for the offense to take over.
3. Late inning magic
In the late innings, the advantage shifts to the Yankees, especially if the bullpens are in play. The Yankees relievers have been able to maintain leads and hold the Astros close when behind. Meanwhile New York's offense has manufactured runs -- via power and productive at-bats -- to extend leads and overcome deficits as the game winds down. If it is close from the seventh inning on and Keuchel is out of the game, the Yankees will like their chances to pull out a win.