Ultimate AL Wild-Card Preview: Houston Astros @ New York Yankees

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Winning Formula for Both Teams

Aug 25, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Houston Astros infielder Carlos Correa (1) lays on the ground after forcing out New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner (11) at second base in the ninth inning against at Yankee Stadium. The Astros defeated the Yankees 15-1. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Winning Formula: Houston

Keuchel is dominant, as he was in his first two starts against the Yankees. The Astros get a two-run homer on the board against Tanaka early and use their aggression on the bases to bleed an insurance run out of a very strong bullpen.

Meanwhile, Harris, Perez, and Gregerson get the last five outs by escaping an eighth-inning jam left by a tiring Keuchel and winning some drawn-out, high-leverage ABs with the veteran Yankee bats. 3-1 Astros, on to Kansas  City.

Winning Formula: New York

Keuchel begins to wear down by the fourth or fifth inning of a one-run game. Hinch gets Fields and Sipp loose, but pulls a Grady Little and lets Keuchel talk him out of a pitching change against Rodriguez with two runners on in the fifth or sixth inning. Rodriguez produces an extra-base hit, Hinch closes the barn door a couple batters too late, and the Astros fail miserably against Betances and Miller for the next hour, losing 4-1.

Which outcome is my prediction? Well, in an inversion of the typical homer fan head vs. heart dichotomy that backs up the notion I’m a pessimist: my head says these are two equally likely scenarios. My heart, however, fears an inevitability to the latter progression.

Most fans consider the Astros to be in the playoffs. Come Tuesday night, one thing is guaranteed: it’s certainly going to feel like it.

Next: Houston Astros Playoffs: A Look at Past Wild-Card Teams’ Success in Playoffs