The Astros fell to the Yankees 4-1 in ALCS Game Five as the offense could not solve New York’s pitching.
ALCS Game Five started much like Game Four went, with the Astros scoring a run off a wild pitch. But things quickly took a turn for the worse and the team never recovered, losing 4-1 to the Yankees on Friday.
The loss means the series will shift back to Houston for a Game Six at Minute Maid Park on Saturday. In all likelihood, it will be a bullpen day for both clubs. AJ Hinch declined to name a starter in his postgame interview, but Jose Urquidy appears the most likely candidate.
There’s also the possibility Hinch uses another reliever as an opener, such as Joe Smith or Hector Rondon. In either case, the hope has to be for Urquidy to give the team four or five solid innings. Hinch did say that it’s unlikely he uses Gerrit Cole on short rest, leaving him available for a possible Game Seven on full rest.
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It didn’t take long for things to unravel for Justin Verlander. He allowed a solo homer to leadoff hitter D.J. LeMahieu on his second pitch of the night. Later in the inning, Aaron Hicks took a hanging breaking ball and clanked it off the right field foul pole for a three-run homer to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead they’d never relinquish.
Verlander struggled mightily with his command in that first inning, but settled in after that. He ended up throwing six scoreless innings the rest of the way, allowing just one hit. He struck out nine and walked none in his seven total innings.
Unfortunately the Astros offense couldn’t muster much resistance. After a difficult first inning, James Paxton also settled in. He struck out nine over six innings, allowing four hits and four walks. Zach Britton and Aroldis Chapman shut the door in the final innings for the Yankees.
The Astros had opportunities to chip away at the lead but could not cash in. They were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, looking much like they did in Game One of the ALCS and in most of the ALDS.
Yordan Alvarez and Robinson Chirinos had particularly rough days, each going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Chirinos is hitless in the ALCS, while Alvarez is hitting just .053. Hinch did confirm Alvarez will be in the lineup in Game Six.
The Astros will attempt to close out the series at home in Game Six to avoid a winner-take-all Game Seven. First pitch is set for 7:08 p.m. CT on Saturday. The game will be broadcast on FS1.