The Houston Astros return home needing two wins to win the American League Championship Series, and will turn to Justin Verlander on the mound in Game 6 against the New York Yankees on Friday night at Minute Maid Park (8 p.m. ET, FS1). But whether the Astros can stay alive likely depends on their offense.
Verlander has been fantastic since the Astros acquired him from the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 31. He has pitched in eight games for Houston — seven starts and one relief appearance — and is 8-0 with a 1.39 ERA, with 59 strikeouts and 10 walks in 51⅔ innings. That includes 13 strikeouts in a Game 2 masterpiece against the Yankees last Saturday, the first nine-inning complete game in a League Championship Series since 2005.
“I consider him to have a bionic arm. He’s never fatigued,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “Whatever that pitch count, I hope he gets as many outs as he can.”
But after the Yankees took the middle three games at home, New York has a 3-2 series lead, needing just one win in two tries in Houston for its first pennant since 2009.
Houston was the best offense in baseball during the regular season, averaging 5.53 runs per game, but the Astros’ bats have been copletely neutralized by the Yankees’ pitching. Houston is hitting just .147/.234/.213 during the ALCS, with nine runs scored in five games.
That’s a .213 slugging percentage for the Astros, who slugged .478 as a team in 2017. Yikes.
“We’re going to reset after yesterday’s off day, and talk about what we’re going to do, not what we’re trying to correct,” Hinch said. “That’s going to be key. We’re pretty electric when we swing at strikes. And obviously that’s the way for us to be run producers.”
ALCS Game 6 time, TV and streaming info
- Teams: Yankees (91-71) at Astros (101-61)
- Series: New York leads, 3-2
- 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
Matt Holliday has only appeared in one of the Yankees’ 11 postseason games, and is 0-for-3. He has to contribute at some point, says Jason Cohen at Pinstripe Alley:
So far the Yankees have done fine using Chase Headley as DH or pinch hitter, but the dynamic of the game changes if and when they advance and have to travel to Dodger Stadium. They will need more than one pinch hitter, which is where Holliday would come in. Despite his struggles this year, He has remained effective against lefties with a 125 wRC+ against them. Deploying a hitter like that for one key at-bat in a game could be crucial to the team’s chances.
Of course, the Yankees have plenty other options to choose from if they don’t believe Matt Holliday can help. Clint Frazier and Tyler Austin could both serve as right-handed power off the bench. Tyler Wade could also provide game-changing speed, if Girardi wants to go a different route. Considering the fact that Holliday has lingered for this long, you have to imagine he will be around the whole way through.
The roof will be closed at Minute Maid Park Friday and, if necessary, on Saturday, too, which is a big advantage for the Astros, says Ryan Dunsmore from Crawfish Boxes:
Minute Maid Park is in the unique company with only six other stadium that have fixed or retractable roofs. Sound has nowhere to go when the Astros fan when they want to go load. And Astros fans will show up early and be loud for Astros playoff baseball. For the rest of the season, I can’t guarantee you anything. But for the playoffs, they will come.
The home field advantage at the Juice Box is has been clear through 20 playoff games at Minute Maid Park, Houston is 13-7. That is including 4-0 during the 2017 run.
So welcome Yankees back to Houston, I hope the team brought their ear plugs.