February 18, 2018

Houston sends Keuchel to hill in ALCS Game 1 vs. Yankees

14 October 2017, 01:10 | Rex Hubbard

The Yankees are built for the future thanks to young stars like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez

The Yankees are built for the future thanks to young stars like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez

As for the Astros, they come into Friday's Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on plenty of rest after winning their series against the Boston Red Sox on Monday in four games.

So, this season marks the first trip to the ALCS for the Astros, and it is also the first trip for two local guys on the roster.

Start with the starters and their co-ace, Dallas Keuchel.

But Tanaka didn't survive the second inning May 14 against the Astros, who just got through knocking around Red Sox starting pitching for 16 runs in 11⅔ innings over four games. "There's really not a weakness on either side".

The Yankees threw 4,826 pitches 95 miles per hour or higher, the most in the AL.

If the Yankees win: They will steal away home-field advantage and make life much easier than it was in the division series. Often, their first pinch-hitter off the bench is Carlos Beltran, a future Hall-of-Famer with 435 career homers. He got to the World Series once, in 2013 with the St. Louis Cardinals when they lost to the Boston Red Sox in six games.

"Extremely talented offensively", Girardi said of the Astros.

You like to base these things on some sort of deep analytical stuff, but ... In 17 at-bats, Judge has only hit into play four times, including just one home run. Keuchel enters Friday's game with a sterling 1.24 career ERA against the Yankees, which is best among active pitchers with at least five starts against them.

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Keuchel won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015 when he went 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA before struggling last season, with a 9-12 record and 4.55 ERA. He joked that the lefty will probably feel better when he takes the mound and sees players in Yankees uniforms.

Keuchel shut out NY over six innings in the 2015 AL Wild-Card game and his 1.41 regular-season earned run average against the Yankees is the best of any starter in the last 60 seasons with a minimum of six starts.

"It's just been a culmination of command, location, maybe a little more confidence", Keuchel said of his success. "I don't think who the names are or who the jersey is, he knows he can get anybody out in the league".

"It is a little insane", said McCann, the 33-year-old catcher who was traded by the Yankees to Houston last winter. Every member of that quintet ranked among the top 12 relievers in baseball this season in strikeout rate, with Betances - who isn't being used in high-leverage spots these days due to command issues - leading the way, at 15.08 whiffs per nine innings. He's 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA in the postseason. "There's a lot of weapons down there for Joe [Girardi] to use, and our players know that".

Cleveland:.286 average, 21 AB, 2 runs, 6 hits, 1 double, 0 HR, 2 RBIs, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 SB, 1 CS, 5 games.

Chatter about Girardi's future in the Bronx has been muffled since the Yankees became only the 10th team to win a best-of-five series after dropping the first two games. Adam Eaton ranks first (.426). We're about to find out.

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