Once the Yankees got rolling, it was over. Whether it was being back home in Yankee Stadium or just the fact that they were able to hop on Astros’ pitcher Charlie Morton early, the Yankees looked far better than they had in the previous two games in Houston.
Facing a 3-0 hole, the Yankees lambasted the Astros 8-0 to take Game 3 and make the series 2-1 with Houston still in the lead, just a lead that had been halved.
The Astros threatened a few times, with runners on second and third and strong batters like Josh Reddick at the plate, but couldn’t put any runs on the board (sometimes thanks to Aaron Judge’s outfield antics). In the first two games of the ALCS, both teams scored six runs combined, but in Game 3 the Yankees didn’t have any trouble on offense and absolutely crushed the Astros.
All the people the Yankees needed — if not expected — to help helped. They chased Astros’ started Charlie Morton after just 3 2⁄3 innings pitched, when he had let up six hits, seven runs, walked two and only struck out three.
Early on, with those strikeouts coming in the first few innings, it looked like Morton had it. He was throwing in the upper 90s, with some impressive movement, and sending New York players back to the bench with ease.
Besides a Todd Frazier three-run home run in the second inning to put the Yankees up 3-0, things looked mostly OK.
But then in the fourth inning things fell apart and it became clear that Morton most certainly did not have it. After allowing another run off a Chase Headley single to make things 4-0, Houston pulled Morton and replaced him with Will Harris.
Things did not go much better.
Todd Frazier scored the Yankees’ seventh run on a wild pitch that moved the runners over, and then Aaron Judge followed it up with his first home run of the postseason to make it 8-0. And that was all she wrote.
Astros reliever Collin McHugh put together a good performance with a four-inning, three-strikeout showing, but at that point it was too little, too late. The silver lining for Houston is that it didn’t have to burn possible Game 4 starter Brad Peacock because the game wasn’t close enough to waste his efforts.
Joe Girardi did, however, have to bring in Tommy Kahnle with only a day’s rest after Dellin Betances came in for the ninth inning and immediately walked two batters. He was pulled quickly.
Yankees’ starter CC Sabathia was the best pitcher of the night, with six innings pitched, letting up three hits and no runs, striking out five and walking four.
That the Astros got a free pass seven times and couldn’t put one run on the board said a lot about their night. They hit a combined 4-for-31 as a team (OUCH), and with the bases loaded and no outs in the top of the ninth they couldn’t do more than cut the final score to 8-1, as they ended things by grounding into a double play.
Whether this marks a turning point for the Yankees or just a reprieve from Astros pitching remains to be seen, but it’s the confidence offensive performance and the shutdown game from Sabathia that they needed at this moment.