Everything the Yankees did well, the Astros did better, edging past their league rivals 2-1 on Friday to take a 1-0 lead in the ALCS. Masahiro Tanaka shone through six quality innings, but Dallas Keuchel positively sparkled, fending off the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of four-hit, 10-strikeout ball for his second postseason win.
Through the first two innings, however, neither starter relinquished more than a single walk. Keuchel cracked on a third-inning single by Brett Gardner, and Tanaka lost his no-hit bid when Jose Altuve collected his first base of the game on an infield hit. That proved to be a crucial mistake, as Altuve promptly snagged second base and came home to score on Carlos Correa‘s RBI single. Two at-bats later, Yuli Gurriel followed that with another RBI single to cap the rally.
Keuchel struggled to maintain control in the fifth inning. Greg Bird roped a leadoff single, followed by a throwing error that planted Matt Holliday at first base. With two outs and runners on first and second, Aaron Judge lined a single into left field that should have scored Bird, but Marwin Gonzalez fired a 97.4-mph throw to catch him at the plate. The Yankees challenged the tag, naturally, and had they been successful, would have been able to push for extras later on.
Tanaka, on the other hand, recovered from his fourth-inning hiccups and retired five consecutive batters before Altuve returned to pester him in the sixth. A base hit and wild pitch later and Altuve was standing on second base again, though neither Correa nor Marwin Gonzalez found themselves able to solve Tanaka to extend the Astros’ two-run advantage. They were no more successful against Chad Green, who pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth with two hits and two strikeouts.
The eighth is exactly where things got interesting for the Yankees. Chris Devenski replaced Keuchel and lasted for just two at-bats after retiring Todd Frazier and walking Brett Gardner on six pitches. Ken Giles promptly came in and repeated the same sequence, inducing a groundout from Judge before walking Gary Sanchez on five pitches, though he was able to recover with an inning-ending strikeout to Didi Gregorius. He returned in the ninth to strike out the side, but not before Greg Bird gave 43,116 Astros fans a mild heart attack:
The Astros still have one game left in Houston before the series moves to New York for Game 3 on Monday. Justin Verlander (15-8, 3.35 ERA) will go up against Luis Severino (14-6, 2.98 ERA) on Saturday for Game 2 at 4:00 PM ET.