The Astros received a historic start by Dallas Keuchel in Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday night, holding Aaron Judge and the Yankees at bay to get a 1-0 advantage in the series.
Keuchel threw 10 strikeouts and gave up just four hits and was backed by clutch hitting by Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel along with another fantastic game by Jose Altuve as the Astros take Game 1 of the ALCS 2-1.
The game started with a quiet first as both pitchers were able to get through their halves of the inning without trouble. Despite giving up a one-out walk to Aaron Judge, Keuchel was able to finish the inning with two strikeouts and a groundout. In the bottom of the inning, Tanaka issued a leadoff walk to George Springer but got out of the inning with a flyout and two groundouts. The Astros failed to score in the opening inning for the first time in the playoffs.
In the second, both pitchers stayed sharp and the game remained scoreless thanks to 1-2-3 efforts from both pitchers. Keuchel continued to look strong with two strikeouts, while Tanaka had a groundout and two flyouts.
Brett Gardner came up with the first hit of the night with a two-out single in the top of the third but was left stranded as Keuchel came back with a big strikeout of Judge. Tanaka kept the Astros off the bases with another perfect inning.
Of course it was Jose Altuve who put the Astros in place to get the first run on the board and take the lead. First, in the top of the inning, he made a spectacular diving stop of a groundball and threw it to first in time for an out. Then, he took to the bases in the bottom half of the inning by getting the first hit of the night for the Astros, stealing second, then scoring on a RBI single from Carlos Correa to make it 1-0. Yuli Gurriel added another run with a RBI single of his own to make it 2-0 before Masahiro Tanaka was able to get out of the inning.
In the top of the fifth, the Yankees were able to get runners on first and second with no outs after a single and rare error by Altuve. Dallas Keuchel got out of the jam, though, thanks in large part to Marwin Gonzalez getting Greg Bird out at home plate on an amazing throw for the final out after a single by Aaron Judge. Tanaka was able to bounce back from the rough fourth for a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning.
Keuchel stayed hot in the top of the sixth, getting two more strikeouts to bring his total to nine, and had some strong defense behind him to get the final out on a ground ball as Correa had to make a quick throw to first that was offline but saved by Gurriel getting the tag for the third out. Altuve got yet another hit in the bottom of the inning, then advanced to second on a wild pitch, but was left stranded leaving the score 2-0 in the Astros favor.
Keuchel returned for the top of the seventh nearing the 100 pitch mark. He made easy work of it, getting through the half inning on just twelve pitches, including getting his tenth strikeout of the night, making him the third Astro to record ten or more in a postseason game. The Yankees went to their bullpen in the bottom half, bringing in Chad Green who gave up one hit but no runs.
With Keuchel’s dominant night done, the Astros brought in Chris Devenski for the top of the eighth. Devenski got a quick pop out before walking Gardner, prompting A.J. Hinch to go back to the bullpen, bringing in Ken Giles for likely a five-out appearance. Despite a walk, Giles was able to keep the Yankees off the board and get the Astros within three outs of the Game 1 win, ending the top of the inning with a big strikeout of Didi Gregorius. Green returned to pitch the bottom of the eighth for the Yankees and despite Altuve getting yet another hit, was able to hold the Astros to their 2-0 lead.
Giles started the top of the ninth with sixteen pitches already thrown but was able to get through the inning and save the game despite losing the shutout on a solo home run to Bird. Giles bounced back and got a strikeout to end the game and lock up the 2-1 win.
Game 2: First pitch for Game 2 of the ALCS is scheduled for 3:08 PM Central tomorrow from Minute Maid Park here in Houston. The Astros will send out Justin Verlander, who despite his weird relief appearance in Game 4 of the ALDS continues to be dominant for his new team. The Yankees will start Luis Severino who was pulled early in the wild card game but was very strong in the ALDS Game 4 win over the Indians. Severino finished the regular season third in the AL with a 2.98 ERA.