It’s Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, with the Houston Astros hosting the New York Yankees. The Astros are facing elimination, but they’ll have Justin Verlander on the mound, coming off one of the best postseason starts in baseball history. The Yankees have some margin for error, but they’d appreciate it if Luis Severino helped them avoid a Game 7 on Saturday night.
The Dodgers would like it if they played 18 innings.
The home team has won every game of this series, with the Astros’ bats growing extraordinarily cold. For the series, they’ve essentially hit like a team of nine Jon Lesters, and that’s not hyperbole. The Yankees’ starting pitchers have been dominant, and their relievers have followed the blueprint to perfection.
As always, refresh to get the latest updates (every 10-20 minutes or so), and scroll to the bottom if you want to read these in chronological order.
11:25 p.m. ET — It’s over, the Astros have won, and there will be a Game 7.
Ken Giles came in to save a six-run lead, which doesn’t seem super ideal with the Astros playing tomorrow, and them likely to need him for at least an inning, maybe more, but the Astros won.
Did I mention there will be a Game 7? Gosh darn, those are fun.
Justin Verlander’s final line: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 8 SO. He is building a legacy that’s going to be a lot easier to remember five years after he retires than, say, Dave Stieb’s. I’m not saying that’s fair. I’m just sayin’.
The home team has won every game of this series, and the Astros will have Charlie Morton against CC Sabathia, perhaps. Although MLB.com is rightfully not sure.
It’ll be a Johnny Wholestaff game, alright. We’ll see which team is better prepared for that, though it would probably be a whole lot easier for one of these starting pitchers to do what Verlander did on Friday night.
11:11 p.m. ET — We have a sacrifice fly, and the Astros lead, 7-1.
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c’mon, sing it with me
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11:06 p.m. ET — David Robertson threw 12 pitches, and he’s out. The good news for the Yankees is that he’ll be ready for a Game 7. The bad news is that there will almost certainly be a Game 7. Since the Altuve home run, the Astros went double-single-double, and they look alive again.
A gentle reminder that this lineup should be really freaking good and fearsome.
It’s 6-1, and the Yankees have three outs to make up at least five runs, except there’s nobody out, at runner on second, and Marwin Gonzalez up. It’s okay to assume this is going to get worse before it gets better.
Dellin Betances is in, so ...
11:01 p.m. ET — The Astros have an insurance run, and the place is absolutely rocking because their local sports team scored a fourth run. It feels like I’m watching the Giants.
Jose Altuve hit a Crawford Boxes special off David Robertson, and the Astros are back up by three, 4-1. Carlos Correa followed with a quick double, and they’re looking for moar moar moarrrrrr.
Everybody wants a Game 7, really. Especially the Dodgers. But also baseball fans around the country. Game 7s are the best. Unless you actually follow one of these teams, in which case, ha ha ha, you’re hosed.
Yuli Gurriel drove a ball to right for a single, and the Astros have re-learned out to hit. You can say that in your best “Oh, somebody learned how to putt” voice if you want.
10:55 p.m. ET — The Yankees are a win away from the World Series because of Gary Sanchez. There is no world in which that isn’t true.
Still, he would like to fold his last two at-bats into a crepe and eat them. In his previous at-bat, he hit a check-swing roller on a 3-0 count, bailing Justin Verlander out. In his eighth inning at-bat, against a rattled Brad Peacock, he struck out on a 3-2 pitch ... right ... down ... the ... piiiiiipe. It was the kind of pitch you have dreams about for the rest of your life.
Maybe it was down in the strike zone, but still. That’s a pitch you have to be ready for with two strikes and two outs.
The Astros are clinging to a two-run lead, and they have three outs to get.
10:49 p.m. ET — Aaron Judge went boom. The Yankees are down by two now, and the Astros still have five outs to get.
Man, that doesn’t sound like a lot of outs, but believe me, it really is.
10:47 p.m. ET — Justin Verlander is out of the game, which means it’s time for the Astros bullpen!
Oh, be nice. Brad Peacock is in to protect a 3-0 lead, and he’s ... started with two straight balls. Mercy.
10:30 p.m. ET — Two innings after Todd Frazier became a GIF, immortal and everlasting, he drove the tying run to the warning track. THINGS WERE TENSE.
Verlander was ... enthused.
In the SB Nation Slack room, my official statement was this:
And I stand by it. Maybe not the capital “K”, because I’m not sure how that happens when you’re just mashing down keys for effect.
But here was the situation: Justin Verlander was on the mound, and the Astros are rightfully scared of the bullpen. He allowed two runners without recording an out, and considering that Clayton Kershaw isn’t even allowed to sniff the seventh inning, it was correct to wonder if this was it for Verlander.
Instead, he struck out Aaron Hicks on a gnarly slider in the 10th pitch of their duel, got Frazier on the above play, and retired the side when Chase Headley grounded out to first. Justin Verlander was ... still enthused ... and the Astros are six outs away from forcing a Game 7.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers are laughing, but we’re not worried about that right now.
10:17 p.m. ET — Not to get too alarmist, here, but Justin Verlander’s velocity is down, and he walked Greg Bird to start the seventh inning. The worst part is that this is stuck in my head now:
Verlander’s command and control are definitely off, and his velocity is down. So what’s preferable? The kerosene-soaked Astros bullpen, or a tired Verlander?
Aaron Hicks just struck out for the first out of the inning, and Verlander is at 93 pitches, so we’ll see what A.J. Hinch prefers. The wall hit Verlander, not the other way around, and I’m not sure any of us saw that coming.
10:04 p.m. ET — We had drama. And then it was gone, poof, just as quickly as it had started.
In the top of the sixth, Chase Headley led off with a floater to center for a single. Ater two quick outs, Didi Gregorius singled just in front of Josh Reddick to put two on and bring Gary Sanchez to the plate, representing the tying run.
Verlander got behind, throwing three quick balls, and the question was if Sanchez was going to have the green light to swing 3-0.
Kind of. It was more of a yellow light. Sanchez checked his swing and grounded out to short. Oh, how he was expecting a fastball. Oh, how he got a curveball. I’m not sure how many 3-0 check swing outs I’ve seen in my lifetime, but it can’t have been too many.
As is, the Astros still lead, 3-0, and Verlander has thrown 75 pitches through six innings, 56 for strikes. He’s probably going the distance, but I guess that’s up to the Yankees.
9:46 p.m. ET — Jose Altuve, welcome to the resistance.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Altuve drove a line drive to left field for a single, driving in two runs and giving the Astros a 3-0 lead. This is just the second time they’ve scored more than two runs in the last six games, and it has to feel mighty cathartic.
Severino dug his own grave, walking three in the inning, even though the Astros were allergic to hits. This was the first multi-hit inning for the Astros since the ninth inning of Game 2, which isn’t ideal. But they have one now, and they’re just four innings away from forcing a Game 7.
Severino is out, and Chad Green is in. It’s a bullpen game for the Yankees, while the Astros have Verlander sitting at 61 pitches through five innings.
9:39 p.m. ET — Uh, which is to say, the Astros are up, 1-0, after a Brian McCann automatic double. He hit it with one out after Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis walked earlier in the inning. George Springer just walked, and the Astros are still threatening.
Gimme a sec.
9:38 p.m. ET —
AND SO IT WAS, THAT IN THE FIFTH INNING OF GAME 6, THAT THE ASTROS GOT TWO WALKS AND A HIT, THUS ALLOWING THEM TO SCORE A “RUN,’ IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RULES OF THEIR SPORT.
9:25 p.m. ET — Todd Frazier, ha ha ha, swung, ahahahahaha, look give me a minute.
In the top of the fifth inning, Todd Frazier swung at a Justin Verlander curveball like he was trying to protect Bengie Molina in a hit and run. There’s no other way to describe it.
Justin Verlander just isn't fair. https://t.co/hieAmLBtwu— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 21, 2017
Really, it’s a testament to just how good these players are that we don’t see swings like that all the time. Verlander throws 98, and he has a breaking ball that looks like it’s coming at your head until it isn’t. How isn’t that the default swing?
But it isn’t, and it sure sticks out when it happens. While I know there’s a rumor going around social media that Frazier turned into a pillar of salt and is no longer with us, he’s still very much in the game. You have to wonder what he’s thinking, though. That was as broken down as I’ve seen a hitter all year.
9:13 p.m. ET —
The Astros don’t have a hit through four innings. I suppose this means that we’re on an official no-hitter watch. If you’re worried about me jinxing it, please. Give me that power. No-hitter, no-hitter, no-hitter. I don’t want to write about a no-hitter. I want to live.
Carlos Correa has a hit! Bless him. Also, jinxes aren’t real.
But this game sure is moving at a quick p ... actually, no, never mind, I don’t want to jinx it.
9:00 p.m. ET — Severino just made George Springer look like a pitcher with a 102-mph fastball on the outside corner. Springer waved and missed, and, look, that’s what a human being should do on a 102-mph fastball. We’re not designed to hit those. Anyone who does is a freak and needs to be subject to the Mutant Registration Act (don’t @ me, Magneto).
Severino will give way to another pitcher who throws 100, who will give way to another pitcher who throws 100, who might give way to a pitcher who throws 105. The Yankees, man. I’m not sure why we were sleeping on them before the season.
8:52 p.m. ET — Verlander allowed his third hit of the evening — COME ON, HINCH, WHERE ARE YOU — but none of them have looked especially intimidating. After each hit, Verlander has looked both annoyed and dismissive, and he’s causually dominated every hitter for the rest of the inning. His last out was a strikeout of Judge, who just couldn’t hold up on the breaking ball.
If you’re an Astros fan, the best part? Verlander is at just 35 pitches through three innings. That’s a pitch count that Wade Davis likes to call “one down in the eighth,” but we’re not here to poke open wounds. Verlander looks outstanding, as does Severino, and I’m so glad that we didn’t get one of those anticlimactic duds that comes with a pitching matchup this good.
8:44 p.m. ET — Luis Severino allowed a walk in the bottom of the second, but I regret to inform you that the Astros do not have a “hit,” per se. They were allotted two hits before the series, and they’ve already used one, so what more do you want from them? They’re saving it.
Severino looks filthy, of course, sitting at 98 like that’s a normal thing for starting pitchers to do, and he retired Alex Bregman with a darting slider that looked like a fastball for juuust long enough. It was unfair.
Still not sure if the Astros are screwing up or if the Yankees are pitching brilliantly. Erring on the side of the latter, but it could be both, I suppose.
8:38 p.m. ET — Here’s the double play. It was like a thousand otters dancing on the top of the world’s prettiest piano, give or take.
8:32 p.m. ET — Justin Verlander allowed another leadoff hit in the second — c’mon, A.J. Hinch, LOOK ALIVE OUT THERE — but then he was absurdly dominant to get out of the inning, striking out Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks.
Between those two strikeouts, there was a long fly ball that sent George Springer back to where Tal’s Hill used to be, but it was a 2017 low-seam special, not a real threat. It’s 0-0, with the Astros coming to bat for a second time.
8:20 p.m. ET — Ah, but Luis Severino didn’t even allow a single baserunner in his half of the inning, so who’s the real ace?
(B ... both of them? This is such a fun matchup. This is so much fun. I’m so glad to be here with you. Isn’t October baseball just the best, everyone?)
8:10 p.m. ET — With one swing, Brett Gardner has produced about as much offense as the entire Yankees team the last time they faced Verlander, slapping a single to the opposite field. That brought up Aaron Judge, who struck out twice in four at-bats in Game 2.
He didn’t strike out! Which is bad. He instead hit a grounder to Carlos Correa, who turned what might have been the niftiest double play of the postseason. There will be video coming if I have to hand-draw a GIF myself because, dang it, that was one of the prettiest plays I’ve seen in a long time.
Didi Gregorius popped out to end the inning, and Verlander looks like, well, Verlander. We’ll see if the Yankees have learned anything since Game 2.