The Yankees took a 6-0 lead in less than two innings, and that early lead — featuring a Brian McCann grand slam and a two-run homer from Chris Young — frustrated Astros starter Brett Oberholtzer a good deal. So much so that he threw a fastball inside to Alex Rodriguez with seeming intent to hit him. Home plate umpire Rob Drake thought so anyway and he tossed Oberholtzer, which ended up being a favor to the Astros. Roberto Hernandez came in after that and pitched three and two-thirds innings of shutout ball, during which time the Astros chipped back against an ineffective Masahiro Tanaka to tie it up 6-6 by the end of the fifth inning.
In the eighth the Yankees put two men on and Mark Teixeira hit a two-run double to break the tie. Chase Headley hit a solo shot in the ninth to add some insurance.
After the game Oberholtzer was optioned to Triple-A Fresno. Which marks the first time in history someone was punished for going after A-Rod rather than praised.
The rest of the results on a soggy Saturday:
Yankees 9, Astros 6
Rangers 4, Blue Jays 0
Twins 5, Brewers 2
Royals 3, Athletics 2
Pirates 8, Braves 4
Giants 7, Rockies 5
Marlins 3, Dodgers 2
Rays 4, Red Sox 1
Angels 4, Mariners 2
Cardinals 8, Cubs 1
Padres 7, Diamondbacks 2
Reds 1, Mets 1: SUSPENDED
White Sox vs. Tigers: POSTPONED
Nationals vs. Phillies: POSTPONED
Indians vs. Orioles: POSTPONED
The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.
In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.
Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).
Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.
With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.