2017 ALCS Game Seven: Yankees at Astros

2017-alcs-logoSo here we are again. Another win or go home game. The Yankees have been through a few of these already this postseason. Except unlike the Wild Card Game or Games Three, Four, and Five of the ALDS, a spot in the World Series is on the line tonight. The Yankees and Astros are playing Game Seven of the ALCS. Winner goes to Los Angeles for the World Series. Loser cries in the shower.

The good news: CC Sabathia is on the mound tonight, and he’s been pretty excellent so far this postseason. Hasn’t allowed an extra-base hit through three starts! If nothing else, you know Sabathia won’t be overwhelmed by the moment. The Yankees lined up their ALCS rotation specifically so Sabathia could start this winner-take-all game, the same way they called on him to start Game Five of the ALDS. In the big man we trust.

Now, the bad news: the bullpen is a little taxed and Houston’s bats seemed to wake up late in Game Six. Chad Green won’t be available today and David Robertson seems pretty rundown. Fortunately Tommy Kahnle and Aroldis Chapman are still out there, and I can’t help but wonder if we’ll see Masahiro Tanaka at some point, even though Joe Girardi said it won’t happen. Sabathia to Kahnle to Chapman with like a 17-run lead would be ideal. Fingers crossed. Here are the lineups:

New York Yankees
1. LF Brett Gardner
2. RF Aaron Judge
3. SS Didi Gregorius
4. C Gary Sanchez
5. 1B Greg Bird
6. 3B Starlin Castro
7. CF Aaron Hicks
8. 3B Todd Frazier
9. DH Chase Headley
LHP CC Sabathia

Houston Astros
1. CF George Springer
2. 3B Alex Bregman
3. 2B Jose Altuve
4. SS Carlos Correa
5. 1B Yulieski Gurriel
6. DH Evan Gattis
7. C Brian McCann
8. LF Marwin Gonzalez
9. RF Josh Reddick
RHP Charlie Morton

It is cloudy and breezy but warm in Houston today. No matter, the Minute Maid Park will be closed. Seems like they always close the roof in the postseason, regardless of the weather. Tonight’s game will begin at 8pm ET and FOX Sports 1 has the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

2017 ALCS Game Six: Yankees at Astros

2017-alcs-logoFor the first time since the championship season of 2009, the Yankees are one win away from going to the World Series. They fell behind 0-2 in the ALCS before storming back to take a 3-2 series lead. Beating up on Dallas Keuchel in Game Five the other day was satisfying. Very satisfying.

The series is not over yet, however. The last win is always the hardest to get. The series has shifted back to Houston, so you know the Minute Maid Park crowd will be going wild tonight. Plus the Astros are going to play with extreme desperation since their season is on the line. The postseason only gets harder the deeper you get.

The good news: the bullpen is well-rested. Or at least as rested as it’s going to get on October 20th. Chad Green, David Robertson, and Aroldis Chapman have all had two straight days of rest. What are the odds Joe Girardi is thinking he can get five innings from them tonight? Pretty good, I’d say. Here are the starting lineups:

New York Yankees
1. LF Brett Gardner
2. RF Aaron Judge
3. SS Didi Gregorius
4. C Gary Sanchez
5. 1B Greg Bird
6. 2B Starlin Castro
7. CF Aaron Hicks
8. 3B Todd Frazier
9. DH Chase Headley
RHP Luis Severino

Houston Astros
1. CF George Springer
2. RF Josh Reddick
3. 2B Jose Altuve
4. SS Carlos Correa
5. 1B Yulieski Gurriel
6. 3B Alex Bregman
7. LF Marwin Gonzalez
8. DH Evan Gattis
9. C Brian McCann
RHP Justin Verlander

It is a bit cloudy in Houston and there’s supposed to be some rain later today, though that doesn’t matter. The Minute Maid Park roof is closed. Tonight’s game will begin at 8pm ET and FOX Sports 1 will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

2017 ALCS Game Five: Astros at Yankees

2017-alcs-logoWelcome to the best-of-three ALCS. The Astros won the first two games, the Yankees the last two games. It’s a new series, and it starts this evening at Yankee Stadium, where the Yankees are undefeated this postseason. They’re a perfect 5-0 at home and have outscored their opponents 30-12 in the five games, which of course includes three elimination games.

Today’s game will determine which is the greater baseball force: Dallas Keuchel against the Yankees or the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Well, I suppose we don’t have to get an answer. Keuchel could dominate and the Yankees could win anyway thanks to a rally against the Astros bullpen, the same way Lance McCullers Jr. dominated and the Yankees won anyway yesterday. That’d be fun, even if I’d love an easy win one of these days.

More importantly, today’s game will decide whether the Yankees go to Houston needing to win one game or two this weekend. Going to Houston needing to win two games would be awfully tough. Doable, sure, but a win this afternoon at home would make life sooo much easier. With the off-day tomorrow, I expect to see Joe Girardi be very aggressive with his top relievers to nail down this win. Here are the starting lineups:

Houston Astros
1. CF George Springer
2. RF Josh Reddick
3. 2B Jose Altuve
4. SS Carlos Correa
5. 1B Yulieski Gurriel
6. 3B Alex Bregman
7. DH Carlos Beltran
8. LF Marwin Gonzalez
9. C Brian McCann
LHP Dallas Keuchel

New York Yankees
1. LF Brett Gardner
2. RF Aaron Judge
3. C Gary Sanchez
4. SS Didi Gregorius
5. CF Aaron Hicks
6. 2B Starlin Castro
7. 1B Greg Bird
8. 3B Todd Frazier
9. DH Chase Headley
RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It has been a stunningly beautiful day in New York. Sunny and cool. Pretty much perfect weather, baseball or otherwise. It’ll be a bit chilly tonight, of course. Today’s game will begin at 5pm ET and FOX Sports 1 has the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

2017 ALCS Game Four: Astros at Yankees

2017-alcs-logoA very strong case can be made this is the most important game of the ALCS. The Astros lead the series 2-1, meaning the Yankees need to win today to avoid falling down 3-1 in the series before facing Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander in Games Five and Six. Having to beat Keuchel and Verlander and win two games in Houston to advance is a tall order. A win today would make life so much easier.

So, in an effort to give his team the best chance to win today, Joe Girardi put Austin Romine in the lineup. Girardi said “the numbers bear out that (Sonny Gray) had better starts with Austin,” which is undeniably true. Gray had a 1.45 ERA (2.84 FIP) with Romine behind the plate during the regular season. It was a 4.63 ERA (5.56 FIP) with Gary Sanchez catching. Of course, we’re talking 18.2 innings with Romine and 46.2 innings with Sanchez, so who the hell knows. “Sometimes it just happens. Sometimes I can’t explain one one catcher mixes with a pitcher a little better,” added Girardi. Yup.

The numbers say whatever the numbers say. Realistically, this boils down to two things. One, Gray’s ball moves all over the place and Romine is a better blocker than Sanchez. And two, the DH spot has been so bad this postseason that putting Romine in the lineup likely represents no change. That’s basically it. A lot of times in a situation like this, we all complain about the player who gets in the lineup, and then he goes out and gets a big hit. I will happily take that today. Here are the starting lineups:

Houston Astros
1. CF George Springer
2. RF Josh Reddick
3. 2B Jose Altuve
4. SS Carlos Correa
5. 1B Yulieski Gurriel
6. 3B Alex Bregman
7. DH Carlos Beltran
8. LF Marwin Gonzalez
9. C Brian McCann
RHP Lance McCullers Jr.

New York Yankees
1. LF Brett Gardner
2. RF Aaron Judge
3. SS Didi Gregorius
4. DH Gary Sanchez
5. 1B Greg Bird
6. 2B Starlin Castro
7. CF Aaron Hicks
8. 3B Todd Frazier
9. C Austin Romine
RHP Sonny Gray

It is an absolutely gorgeous evening in New York. Chilly, but gorgeous. Pretty great postseason baseball weather. Game Four will begin at 5pm ET and FOX Sports 1 will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

2017 ALCS Game Three: Astros at Yankees

2017-alcs-logoOnce again, the Yankees return home in a postseason series down 0-2. And, once again, they’re faced with having to make a big comeback against a 100+ win team. The Yankees made that comeback against the Indians in the ALDS. Can they do it against the Astros in the ALCS? I mean, sure, of course they can. Will they? That’s another matter.

This season the Yankees had the AL’s best home record at 51-30, so it would seem it is advantage Yankees that these games will be played in Yankee Stadium. Then again, the Astros were tied for the AL’s best road record 53-28, so maybe not. But! The Astros were tied with the Indians for the best road record, and we know what happened in the ALDS.

More than anything, the Yankees need to get their offense going. They scored one run in Game One and one run in Game Two, and botched several chances due to poor baserunning decisions. The Astros aren’t exactly firing on all cylinders either. How much longer will that continue, realistically? It would behoove the Yankees to snap out of their team-wide funk soon, as in tonight. Here are the starting lineups:

Houston Astros
1. CF George Springer
2. 3B Alex Bregman
3. 2B Jose Altuve
4. SS Carlos Correa
5. DH Yulieski Gurriel
6. C Evan Gattis
7. 1B Marwin Gonzalez
8. RF Josh Reddick
9. LF Cameron Maybin
RHP Charlie Morton

New York Yankees
1. LF Brett Gardner
2. RF Aaron Judge
3. SS Didi Gregorius
4. C Gary Sanchez
5. 1B Greg Bird
6. 2B Starlin Castro
7. CF Aaron Hicks
8. 3B Todd Frazier
9. DH Chase Headley
LHP CC Sabathia

It is a cold and windy night in the Bronx. Playoff weather. If you’re at the game, I hope you dressed warm. Tonight’s game will begin at 8pm ET and FOX Sports 1 will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Luis Severino (shoulder) doesn’t need further tests, it was determined. He played catch today and they’ll check on him again tonight just to be sure everything is fine. If (when!) there’s a Game Six, Severino will be the starter.

2017 ALCS Game Two: Yankees at Astros

2017-alcs-logoOnce again, the Yankees are down 0-1 in a postseason series. They’ve lost Game One in each of their last three postseason series, you know. They were swept by the Tigers in the 2012 ALCS, but did come back to win the ALDS against the Indians this year. Dating back to the 1996 World Series, the Yankees have lost Game One of a postseason series 14 times. They’re 10-4 in those series.

That’s not to make light of last night’s loss, of course. Losing Game One stinks. Historically, the team that wins Game One of a best-of-seven has gone on to win the series 64.1% of the time. It’s just a reminder that hey, losses happen, and dropping Game One of the series doesn’t mean it’s over. The Yankees were thoroughly dominated by Dallas Keuchel and the Astros still needed 37 pitches from their closer to nail down the 2-1 win.

This afternoon the Yankees will have Luis Severino, their best starting pitcher, on the mound to try to even up the series. The Astros blasted Severino when they faced him back in May. They also blasted Masahiro Tanaka literally the same day as part of a doubleheader, but that didn’t mean much last night. The bullpen is rested and ready to go. The Yankees may only need five from Severino. Hopefully he gives them more. Here are the starting lineups:

New York Yankees
1. LF Brett Gardner
2. RF Aaron Judge
3. SS Didi Gregorius
4. C Gary Sanchez
5. 1B Greg Bird
6. 2B Starlin Castro
7. CF Aaron Hicks
8. 3B Todd Frazier
9. DH Chase Headley
RHP Luis Severino

Houston Astros
1. CF George Springer
2. RF Josh Reddick
3. 2B Jose Altuve
4. SS Carlos Correa
5. LF Marwin Gonzalez
6. 1B Yulieski Gurriel
7. DH Carlos Beltran
8. 3B Alex Bregman
9. C Brian McCann
RHP Justin Verlander

It is another hot and sunny day in Houston. The Minute Maid Park roof will be closed again. Game Two will begin at 4pm ET and FOX will have the broadcast. That’s regular old FOX. Not FOX Sports 1. Enjoy.

2017 ALCS Game One: Yankees at Astros

2017-alcs-logoI gotta say, I did not expect the Yankees to reach the ALCS after they fell behind 0-2 to the Indians in the ALDS, but here we are. Here they are, really. I didn’t do anything other than blog about it. Four more wins and this lovable squad of great young players and quality veterans will advance to the World Series. This is the first time the Yankees have been underdogs since 1996. It’s been fun.

Of course, winning the ALCS and getting to the World Series will be no picnic, the same way winning the ALDS wasn’t easy. It only gets harder to win each time you advance. The Astros, who won 101 games during the regular season, completely depantsed the Red Sox in the ALDS and showed off their high-powered offense. Here’s how long it took Houston to take the lead in the four ALDS games:

  • Game One: Five batters, including the three Red Sox batters in the top of the first.
  • Game Two: Nine batters, including the five Red Sox batters in the top of the first.
  • Game Three: Three batters.
  • Game Four: Four batters.

Yeah. The Astros are good. But so are the Yankees! They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t. Historically, the team that wins Game One of a best-of-seven series goes on to win the series 64.1% of the time. Then again, we all read about how rare it is for a team to come back from down 0-2 in a best-of-five series last round, and the Yankees are still standing. But seriously, win Game One and start the ALCS off on the right foot. Here are the lineups:

New York Yankees
1. LF Brett Gardner
2. RF Aaron Judge
3. C Gary Sanchez
4. SS Didi Gregorius
5. 2B Starlin Castro
6. CF Aaron Hicks
7. 1B Greg Bird
8. DH Matt Holliday
9. 3B Todd Frazier
RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Houston Astros
1. CF George Springer
2. RF Josh Reddick
3. 2B Jose Altuve
4. SS Carlos Correa
5. LF Marwin Gonzalez
6. 1B Yulieski Gurriel
7. CF Carlos Beltran
8. DH Alex Bregman
9. C Brian McCann
LHP Dallas Keuchel

It is hot in Houston today. It’s still like the middle of summer down there. Fortunately for everyone at Minute Maid Park, the roof will be closed and the air conditioning will be on. Tonight’s game will begin at 8pm ET and FOX Sports 1 will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.