It was a pitchers’ duel for a while, and then there was some offense that bubbled up for both teams in the middle innings, and then it was a bullpen show again. Dallas Keuchel pitched an impeccable game, and the Astros won Game 1 of the American League Championship Series at home 2-1.
Masahiro Tanaka didn’t allow a hit for the Yankees in the first three innings. Until the fourth, both teams’ pitchers had things on lockdown pretty much with only two walks and two singles combined in the first three frames.
It looked like anybody’s game but the Astros took advantage of opportunities first with a two-run fourth inning that would prove to be the final margin.
Jose Altuve got on base with a single and then stole second, putting himself in scoring position with his super speed. Carlos Correa drove him home with a single, and then advanced to second himself when Marwin Gonzalez grounded out. Yulieski Gurriel handled the work of getting Correa home with single to center field, and that was that.
In the top of the fifth inning the Yankees almost scored in reply, except for they didn’t anticipate just how good Marwin Gonzalez is at throwing baseballs. Aaron Judge, after having a rough playoffs at the plate thus far (with the exception of the Wild Card game), looked like he was going to get the Yankees back within one run with a hit to shallow left field.
He battled Dallas Keuchel, worked for a hit….and then Gonzalez picked that ball up and threw a flawless ball to the plate like he was throwing from the infield to get Greg Bird out and it was all for naught and New York plated no runs in the inning.
Keuchel pitched a brilliant game, going seven innings and allowing only four hits. He struck out 10 batters and walked only one. He’s the first pitcher in baseball history to allow no runs and strike out seven or more batters in back-to-back postseason games against New York. So that’s pretty cool.
Houston’s bullpen was no slouch either, with Chris Devenski taking over for Keuchel and walking one and getting one out before ceding the floor to closer Ken Giles. Giles let up a home run off of Greg Bird’s bat in the ninth inning, but after halving the Astros’ lead the Yankees couldn’t do much more and Giles put Jacoby Ellsbury down right afterwards to seal the win.
Besides the two runs early in the game the Yankees’ pitching staffs were no slouches either. Tanaka allowed four hits, two runs, and a walk while striking out three in six innings. Chad Green pitched the final two innings for New York and only allowed two hits while striking out two, throwing only 31 pitches.
Game 2 on Saturday will find Justin Verlander facing off against Luis Severino in Houston, so the expectation is that could easily be another low-scoring fight. Or they could both collapse and the offense could be out of control. We’ll just have to see how that turns out!