Keuchel dominates Yanks again, Astros take Game 1
The Yankees have found themselves in the ALCS a year or two ahead of schedule, and with all the momentum in the world after erasing a 2-0 deficit in the ALDS to defeat the defending A.L champion Cleveland Indians behind some strong pitching and big time performances. This brought the Yanks to Houston, where it was a pitchers duel Friday night, as both Dallas Keuchel and Masahiro Tanaka brought their A games, yet it was Keuchel who continued his utter dominance against the Yankees, throwing seven shutout innings and making hitters look foolish all night, as the Yankees lost Game 1 2-1.
The story early on in Game 1 was the absolute mastery that was put on display by both Dallas Keuchel and Masahiro Tanaka, who were both nearly unhittable. Keuchel had the strikeout pitch going early, five through the first three, while Tanaka only had one punch out, yet did not allow a hit until the fourth inning. Tanaka was pitching to contact to start the game, and other than a couple of loud outs to center, he proved it to be a successful tactic, as he continued his scoreless innings streak that dated back to the regular season, while throwing a minimal amount of pitches.
Brett Gardner had the first hit for either team with a base hit in the third inning, yet he would be stranded on first after Aaron Judge struck out after a questionable called strike on
3-1 that extended the at bat. The Yanks looked to have something brewing in the fourth for a change, as Starlin Castro ripped a single to left, and was followed by Aaron Hicks, who bombed a ball to center that was about ten feet short from giving the Yankees the 2-0 lead, yet George Springer made the catch just in front of the wall, ending the inning and keeping the game scoreless.
|Photo Credit: AP Tony Gutierrez|
After an Altuve infield hit in the fourth, the miniature second basemen stole second on Sanchez with one out in the inning, perfectly setting the Astros up. This would prove costly, as Carlos Correa immediately made the Yanks pay with a base hit to left that scored Altuve and gave the Astros the first run of the ALCS. Tanaka would get the next man Gonzalez out, but Yuri Gurriel would not go down as easily, hitting an RBI single up the middle to make it 2-0 Astros headed to the fifth.
Greg Bird got the Yanks going in the fifth with a leadoff single to right, the third hit of the game for New York. The next man to the plate was Matt Holliday, who appeared to hit a routine double play ball, except for the fact that Altuve bobbled the ball and could not get either out, putting the first two men on of the inning. The next two Yankee hitters who stepped to the plate did not get the job done, as Todd Frazier flew out and Gardy struck out swinging, which would bring the ice cold Aaron Judge to the plate.
Judge worked the count to 3-2, and stepped up and delivered a big hit into left field off Keuchel. Yet, the runner on second was Greg Bird, not exactly known as a speed demon,who took a terrible secondary lead and turn and was ultimately thrown out at home on a close play to keep the Yankees off the scoreboard, and killing their potential rally in the process. The Yanks would go back to being baffled by Keuchel in the sixth, continuing to chase several pitches in the dirt. Tanaka, however, would bounce back from his rough fourth to pitch a scoreless fifth and sixth, and keep his team within striking distance as the game moved to the seventh.
The Yanks once again did not get anything going against Keuchel in the seventh, and in the bottom half of the inning, there was a new Yankee pitcher on the mound in Chad Green, who other than an infield hit had a flawless inning. A happy sight was seen on the mound to start the top of the eighth: no Dallas Keuchel, as Chris Devenski took over for the Astros trying to keep the Yanks off the scoreboard. Devenski would get Frazier out to start the inning, but walked Gardner after a close check swing on 3-2, which removed him from the game and brought in Ken Giles, looking for a five out save.
After getting Judge to groundout and surrendering a walk to Gary, there were runners on first and second with two outs, with no one other than Didi coming to the plate, in prime position for yet another big postseason home run. It wouldn't happen this time for Didi though, as he struck out on a low breaking ball to strand the runners and keep the Yanks run total at 0.
Chad Green had a nearly identical inning to his first, as he allowed just one hit yet got the three outs he needed to send the game to the ninth with the score still at 2-0, with the Yankees having one final chance to put some runs across and possibly extend the game. Down to their final out, the Yanks looked doomed to get shutout for another Game 1. Yet, in stepped Greg Bird, who launched a ball deep to right field off the foul pole that put the Yanks on the board and made it a 2-1 game in the ninth.However, Jacoby Ellsbury was the next man up, and could not get on base to keep the game going, instead striking out and ending the game.
It was yet another extremely disappointing Game 1 offensive performance from the Yanks, who once again showed terrible plate discipline as a team against a pitcher who is known as a junk ball pitcher. The Yankees are no strangers to series deficits though, and will need to bounce back in a big way tomorrow afternoon, as it will be Luis Severino vs Justin Verlander in a pivotal Game 2.
Winning Pitcher: Dallas Keuchel (2-0, 0.74 ERA): 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K
Losing Pitcher: Masahiro Tanaka (1-1, 1.38 ERA): 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K
Jose Altuve: 3-4, R
Greg Bird: 2-4, HR (3)
Brett Gardner: 1-3, BB
Carlos Correa: 1-4, R, RBI
Aaron Judge: 1-3, BB
Starlin Castro: 1-4
Chad Green: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K
Article by: Matt LuzziFollow @SportsLuzzi