The Astros bats came alive in their return to Houston as they plate seven to force a Game 7 in the ALCS >> Box score
Starters Luis Severino and Justin Verlander were dueling to start the game. That is until Astros C and former Yankee Brian McCann broke the game open in the bottom of the fifth.
McCann roped a double on a hanging 2-2 changeup to score Alex Bregman. Jose Altuve would add two more runs with a line shot just passed the glove of 3B Todd Frazier to give the home team a 3-0 lead.
Aaron Judge would close the defecit with a solo homer to deep left center field.
However, the Astros would break it open in the eighth, plating four runs to ice the game. Altuve started it off with a solo shot of his own off David Robertson while Bregman lined a two-run double to deep center. Evan Gattis would hit a sacrifice fly to score Bregman.
Severino would finish with three earned runs on three hits while walking four and striking out three in 4 2/3 innings. Verlander pitched another gem by allowing no runs on five hits while striking out eight and walking one in seven innings.
If the Yankees are going to reach the World Series, they will have to do so in their third winner-take-all game this postseason Saturday night.
The Yankees had a game plan against Verlander and they stuck to it. The problem is, he flourished against it long enough for his team to get a lead against Severino.
They couldn't capitalize on any of the few mistakes that Verlander made, and when they got two runners on in the sixth and seventh innings, they came up empty. Severino was cruising through four innings, but lost his command in the fifth inning, and that's when Yankees manager Joe Girardi made his first mistake of the night.
With the Yankees down just one run, Girardi allowed Severino to pitch to Altuve - with Chad Green warmed up - with the bases loaded and the MVP candidate made him pay with a two-run hit. Green went on to throw 38 pitches, which seems to make him unavailable for Game 7.
Then, with the Yankees down 3-1 in the eighth, Girardi brought in David Robertson, which was somewhat understandable considering the Astros bullpen has been so shaky. However, as soon as Robertson allowed the leadoff home run to Altuve, he should have been pulled so that he would be as fresh as possible for tomorrow's Game 7. Instead, Robertson was left in for three more hitters, the lead ballooned and the Astros gain some confidence against him.
The loss was ugly, but the Yankees have been able to turn the page all season after a tough defeat. Plus, the Yankees will have CC Sabathia on the mound for Game 7, a pitcher that has prospered in games after a loss. Sabathia is 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in such circumstances this season, including the postseason.
The Yankees and Astros will play for a World Series berth in Game 7 on Saturday night at 8 p.m. CC Sabathia is scheduled to pitch against Charlie Morton.