Tanaka Downs ‘Stros Who Now Face Elimination

To say the tides have changed in this series just simply wouldn’t do this situation justice. The Astros took a commanding 2-0 lead in the series and were having their way with Yankee hitters. The Yankees odds looked even worse heading into the bottom of the 8th inning in Game 4, down 4-2 and then Headley lined a single to left-center and blew the game wide open.

Houston officially has a problem.

Behind the brilliance of Masahiro Tanaka and the continued resurgence of Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge, the New York Yankees defeated the Houston Astros and their ace Dallas Keuchel 5-0 to take Game 5 of the ALCS, their third-straight win after falling behind 2-0 in the series. Tanaka kept the major league’s most potent regular-season offense quiet all night, not allowing a single run over seven innings, giving up three hits while striking out eight.

Tanaka kept the major league’s most potent regular-season offense quiet all night, not allowing a single run over seven innings, giving up three hits while striking out eight.If there was anyone to stop the Yankees, it was Keuchel, who hadn’t allowed a run while striking out 17 in two previous postseason starts against the Yankees, including Game 1 of this very ALCS. But Keuchel only lasted 4.2 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits while striking out eight.

The onslaught came a half inning after the Astros were unable to capitalize off a lead-off double by Yuli Gurriel as Tanaka kept them off the board. Judge added a second run the following inning with an RBI double that scored Brett Gardner from first. It was his third-straight game with an RBI. Unlike this year’s Red Sox, Judge seems to know when to heat up.

Houston had another golden opportunity to get on the board in the fifth when they got runners on first and second with one out. Once again, Tanaka got out of the jam by striking out George Springer and Josh Reddick. If that wasn’t demoralizing enough for the Astros, the Yankees added two more in the bottom half of the fifth behind a pair of RBI singles from Game 3 hero Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius.

Tanaka managed to go two more innings, finishing his night after seven in grand fashion with a strikeout of Marwin Gonzalez, his 103rd pitch of the evening. Not that they needed any more insurance, but Sanchez provided an exclamation point on the evening when he nuclear bombed a Brad Peacock offering into the left-field stands in the seventh inning, and with a comfortable lead, the Yankees preserved the arms of David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman, turning to Tommy Kahnle to close things out, securing Tanaka and the Yankees’ victory.

You couldn’t have asked for a better postseason homestand from the Yankees, who won both games of the ALDS before sweeping all three games in the Bronx this series against the Astros. Now they have to leave the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium and head back to Houston, where they lost the opening two games of the series by a score of 2-1. I’m sure the Astros are thrilled to be taking the series back west; I know I’m hoping it’ll realign things for Houston.

On Friday, the Yankees will face Justin Verlander in Houston for Game 6 with a chance to go to the World Series. But who is going to bet against them beating Verlander? They came back from a three-run, first-inning deficit in the wild-card game. They were down two games to none against the AL’s best regular-season team, the Cleveland Indians. They trailed the Astros 2-0 in the ALCS. All they do is come back, and if you understand the talent of this Yankees group, it is not that shocking. This hurts me so bad to say, but they are starting to look like a team of destiny, just like our 2004 Red Sox.

Justin Verlander, who went the distance in Game 2, will take the mound in Game 6 on Friday while the Yankees counter with Luis Severino.

League Championship SeriesGame 6 – Yankees lead series 3-2
Friday, October 20, 7:08 PM on FS1
Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas

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