The two leading candidates for American League MVP face off in the American League Championship Series, but Jose Altuve and Aaron Judge are coming off very different opening-round performances. The Houston Astros host the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday night at Minute Maid Park in Houston (8 p.m. ET, FS1).
Altuve was 8-for-15 (.533) with four walks in the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox, and he tied the postseason record with three home runs in Game 1.
Judge was 1-for-20 (.050) with a double and four walks in five ALDS games against the Cleveland Indians, and he set a record with 16 strikeouts in a single series.
“I’m just missing my pitch,” Judge told Dan Martin of the New York Post. “They didn’t make too many mistakes. But it’s not tough for me. I’ve been through this before. Everyone has. Guys were able to pick me up when I wasn’t able to get the job done.”
Judge hit .284/.422/.627 with a rookie-record 52 home runs during the regular season. One of those came against the Astros, against whom he was 6-for-22 (.273) with two doubles and six walks in 2017.
The Astros were 5-2 against the Yankees during the regular season, including winning two of three games at home from June 30 to July 2.
Dallas Keuchel, who beat the Yankees with six scoreless innings in the 2015 American League Wild Card Game in New York, gets the start for Houston in Game 1 of the ALCS. He won his ALDS start against Boston, striking out seven in 5⅔ innings in Game 2.
Masahiro Tanaka gets the call on the mound for the Yankees, looking to build off his seven scoreless innings in Game 3 of the ALDS to start New York’s series comeback against Cleveland. Tanaka in his last two starts has totaled 14 scoreless innings and 22 strikeouts.
ALCS Game 1 time, TV and streaming info
- Teams: Yankees (91-71) at Astros (101-61)
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- First pitch: 8:08 p.m.
- Location: Minute Maid Park, Houston
- TV: FS1
- Streaming: Fox Sports Go
- Announcers: Joe Buck, John Smoltz, Tom Verducci, Ken Rosenthal
Astros vs. Yankees news & notes
The Yankees weren’t supposed to contend this early, writes our Marc Normandin:
That’s not a negative critique of the Yankees or what they have done. In fact, it’s the opposite. They weren’t supposed to be here: They are, anyway. The Yankees were rebuilding, adding youth to the roster while avoiding adding any costly veterans, a year removed from trading away Andrew Miller for prospects at the deadline, months removed from dealing Brian McCann to another contender in order to make room for Gary Sanchez to play full time. Fans wondered who would be packaged off next to speed things along. It turns out that the answer was “no one,” because the Yankees who remained were well ahead of schedule.
At the end of March, Aaron Judge was still potentially going to start the season at Triple-A. He had crushed the ball in spring training, but he had also struggled in 2016, and this wasn’t some can’t-miss prospect the Yankees were dealing with. Judge’s best season of his entire professional career came in 2017, and it came out of nowhere, and it’s one of the major reasons New York is where they weren’t yet supposed to be.
The Astros are loaded with young talent, but several veteran additions helped Houston win Game 4 to close out Boston, writes Ryan Dunsmore at Crawfish Boxes:
Previous experiences help, but Astros general manager helped things along as well with a few veteran pieces to fill out the roster that came up big in game 4 of the 2017 ALDS alone.
Could the 2017 Astros have made it without Reddick, Beltran, and Verlander? Probably. But it was these moves and the 2015 experience that have made the Astros the juggernaut they are heading into the ALCS.