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Astros offense continues to sleepwalk, Tanaka and Yankees win 5-0 to take 3-2 lead in ALCS

The New York Yankees made it three great home games in a row Wednesday night, taking advantage of another woeful night for the Astros’ offense, a rough start by Dallas Keuchel, and a great start from Masahiro Tanaka to take a 3-2 lead in the ALCS. The Yankees are now one win away from eliminating the Astros and moving to the World Series.

The Yankees tagged Keuchel with four earned runs while getting seven shutout innings from Tanaka including eight strikeouts as the Yankees beat the Astros 5-0 to win three straight in front of their home crowd and go ahead in the series.

Game 5 got underway with a long fly ball from George Springer caught by Aaron Judge near the right-field wall. Jose Altuve reached base on a two-out error by Todd Frazier but was unable to advance as Tanaka got a groundout from Carlos Correa to end the top of the first. Keuchel took the mound in the bottom of the first and retired the Yankees in order with two strikeouts, sending the game to the second scoreless like every other game in this series has.

In the top of the second, Yuli Gurriel recorded the first hit of the game with a leadoff double into the left-field corner, continuing his strong offensive postseason. Alex Bregman moved Gurriel to third with a groundout for the first out but he was left stranded there after two groundouts. Starlin Castro notched the first hit for the Yankees on a double to the left-center wall, then came around to score on a Greg Bird single into the right-field corner to give New York a 1-0 lead. Keuchel bounced back with a strikeout to end the inning.

Springer reached base on a one-out bloop single to center in the top of the third, then moved to second on a groundout by Josh Reddick, but became another stranded runner after an Altuve groundout. Chase Headley led off the bottom of the inning with a single but was thrown out at second on a groundball by Brett Gardner for the first out. Gardner would come around to score and make it 2-0 Yankees on a double down the third-base line by Judge. Keuchel struck out the next two batters, raising his total to six, to end the inning, but still left the Astros in a 2-0 hole.

Tanaka had his first 1-2-3 inning of the game in the top of the fourth on a strikeout and two groundouts to retire the Astros in order. Keuchel responded with a quick inning of his own, getting through the bottom of the fourth on 11 pitches including two more strikeouts, sending the game to the fifth still 2-0 in favor of the Yankees.

Marwin Gonzalez hit a one-out single in the top of the fifth, then advanced on a wild pitch, followed by a walk to Brian McCann to put runners on first and second with one out. They would become two more runners stranded, though, as Tanaka would get back-to-back strikeouts of Springer and Reddick to end the threat. Headley hit a slow ground ball to Bregman at third who threw the ball off-line to first, allowing Headley to move to second and avoid the out. After a two-out walk to Judge, Gary Sanchez hit a RBI single into the left-field corner to add another run to the Yankees lead, making it 3-0. Didi Gregorius followed and hit a grounder past Altuve to score another run and end Keuchel’s night down 4-0 with two outs in the fifth. Will Harris followed Keuchel and was able to get the last out of the inning.

Tanaka continued to dominate in the top of the sixth, getting yet another 1-2-3 inning. Harris came back out for the bottom of the inning and was able to get two outs but issued a walk and two-out double to put runners on second and third before being pulled in favor of Brad Peacock. Peacock was able to get a strikeout to end the inning and send the 4-0 game to the seventh.

Tanaka started the top of the seventh with his pitch count at 90 and was able to get through the half inning with a fly out and two strikeouts, the second of which was his eighth of the night on his 103rd pitch. Brad Peacock returned for the bottom of the seventh and allowed a one-out solo home run to Sanchez to extend the Yankees lead to 5-0. Gregorius followed with a double but was stranded as Peacock was able to get a strikeout and groundout to get out of the seventh.

Tommy Kahnle was the first out of the Yankees bullpen and pitched the top of the eighth, another easy one as the Astros went down in order on just nine pitches. Francisco Liriano pitched the bottom of the inning for the Astros and worked around a leadoff walk to send the game to the ninth still 5-0.

Kahnle worked his second inning in the top of the ninth, and despite giving up a one-out double to Correa was able to complete the shutout and seal the 5-0 win for the Yankees.

Game 6: The series returns home to Houston for at least another game, and possibly a Game 7 if needed. Game 6 is scheduled for 7:08 PM Central Friday night and can be seen on FS1. Neither team has announced their starters officially, but it is likely to be a rematch of Game 2 which pitted Justin Verlander for the Astros against Luis Severino for the Yankees. The Astros will look to get the offense to come back to life in the confines of Minute Maid Park and force a decisive Game 7.

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