6th Inning: Yankees and Astros Trade Homers
The Astros widened their lead when Carlos Correa, the hero of Game 2, hit a 3-run homer. The Yankees got two back on a Gary Sanchez homer, but in a game that is into the bullpen for both teams, Houston is leading, 6-3.
To start the sixth, Masahiro Tanaka allowed his first baserunner since the third inning as D.J. LeMahieu couldn’t handle a sharp liner from Alex Bregman — with the play officially being ruled an error. That was it for Tanaka, though, as Manager Aaron Boone replaced him with Chad Green.
Green, who has now pitched in three consecutive games, got Yuli Gurriel to pop out to short, but then Yordan Alvarez delivered his first hit of the A.L.C.S. with a single to center that sent Bregman to third, and Correa brought them both home with a 403-foot homer to left-center that made it 6-1 Houston. A second out came via a pop-up to first from Robinson Chirinos and Green ended the inning by striking out Josh Reddick.
Asked to preserve the five-run lead, a new Astros reliever, Josh James, started things off by issuing a four-pitch walk to Brett Gardner. Gary Sanchez, who to that point was 0 for 2 in the game and 1 for 15 in the series, suddenly found his swing, launching a 98 mile-per-hour fastball 403 feet to left-center to narrow the Yankees’ deficit to 6-3.
After James struck out Gio Urshela and got Didi Gregorius to pop-out to Bregman in foul territory, D.J. LeMahieu lined a ball down the right-field line that resulted in a ground-rule double as it bounced out of play before ricocheting back onto the field. James was able to strand LeMahieu on second by striking out Aaron Judge to end the inning.
Tanaka’s final line for the game was five innings, with four runs on four hits. He struck out one and walked two, thoroughly dominating Houston in every inning but the third.
5th Inning: Pressly Escapes a Jam
Since Michael Brantley singled in the third inning, Masahiro Tanaka has allowed a fielder’s choice to Alex Bregman and absolutely nothing else, with eight straight batters being dispatched with seemingly minimal effort. That includes a top of the fifth in which he dispatched the top of the Astros’ batting order with the only difficult out being Michael Brantley’s liner to right that was snagged by a diving Aaron Judge.
Zack Greinke was not nearly as sharp. He allowed a one-out single to right from D.J. LeMahieu before falling behind 3-0 against Aaron Judge in an at-bat that eventually went eight pitches and resulted in a walk. With Greinke up to 83 pitches, and Houston clinging to a two-run lead, Manager A.J. Hinch had seen enough, and he replaced his No. 3 starter with Ryan Pressly.
The Houston reliever walked Aaron Hicks to load the bases, bringing up Gleyber Torres, who Pressly was able to strike out on six pitches, getting the third strike on a checked swing — though Torres vehemently disagreed with the call. There was a brief delay when Houston’s catcher, Robinson Chirinos, was struck in the arm by a follow-through, but Pressly got out of the jam by striking out Edwin Encarnacion to end the inning, preserving the 3-1 lead.
4th Inning: Pitchers Settle In
A perfect inning for both pitchers kept things awfully quiet.
Masahiro Tanaka showed no signs of having let a difficult third inning get to him. He got Carlos Correa to line out to left, Robinson Chirinos to ground out to short and then got out of the inning when Josh Reddick flied out to deep left.
Zack Greinke was able to match Tanaka’s perfection. He got Brett Gardner to chase a pitch that bounced just after it crossed home plate for his fifth strikeout of the night, retired the ice-cold Gary Sanchez on a grounder out to short, and ended the inning by getting Gio Urshela to ground out to second.
3rd Inning: Springer Blasts Astros Into the Lead
The tone of this game changed dramatically when Masahiro Tanaka, who had been brilliant in the first two innings, suddenly couldn’t get an out. And George Springer, who has been slumping for most of the postseason, got his second crucial home run against the Yankees.
Tanaka was in trouble immediately. He walked Robinson Chirinos and then gave up a single to Josh Reddick. Springer made him pay for those baserunners by blasting a 408-foot homer to left-center that came off his bat at 110 m.p.h.
The next batter, Jose Altuve, hit a soft grounder to short and then motored to first for an infield single, just barely beating Didi Gregorius’s throw, and Michael Brantley singled to right, sending Altuve to third. Alex Bregman’s grounder back to the mound got Altuve caught in a run-down and, just like in Game 3, Houston showed some baserunning savvy by getting its runners to second and third while the Yankees chased down the Astros’ speedy second baseman between third and home.
Tanaka got Yuli Gurriel to pop out to right, shallow enough that Brantley was not able to score and Yordan Alvarez popped out to left to end the inning.
Staked to a lead, Zack Greinke responded well. He struck out Aaron Hicks, got Gleyber Torres to fly out to right and struck out Edwin Encarnacion to end the inning.
2nd Inning: Some Shakiness, but No Runs
The second inning saw both Masahiro Tanaka and Zack Greinke improve their efficiency from the first inning, and the score remained 1-0 Yankees.
Tanaka retired the leadoff batter, Yuli Gurriel, on a liner to center and got Yordan Alvarez to ground out on a sharply hit ball to second — with Alvarez very nearly beating the slow throw to first from Gleyber Torres. Tanaka then struck out Carlos Correa to complete the 1-2-3 inning.
Greinke needed one pitch to get Gio Urshela to pop out to short, but he allowed a one-out single to left from Didi Gregorius. D.J. LeMahieu hit a soft chopper to first, slow enough that Gurriel had no play at second and settled for just one out at his own base. That brought Aaron Judge up with a runner on second and two outs, but Greinke was able to strike him out to end the threat.
1st Inning: Greinke Walks In a Run
The Yankees got Gerrit Cole to tie his career high with five walks in Game 3, and they already have Zack Greinke up to three after one inning of Game 4. The third forced in a run home, giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
The top half of the inning was quiet. After retiring George Springer on a liner to short and Jose Altuve on a soft fly to right, Masahiro Tanaka walked Michael Brantley. Just two pitches later, he was out of the inning thanks to Alex Bregman popping out to short.
In the bottom half of the inning, D.J. LeMahieu drew a leadoff walk before Aaron Judge hit a sharp grounder to short that Carlos Correa was able to flip to second for an out. The Yankees’ surprise No. 3 hitter, Aaron Hicks, hit a bloop to shallow right that baffled Houston’s defense, falling to the ground just out of Correa’s reach, putting runners at first and second.
Gleyber Torres did Greinke a favor, popping out to first on the first pitch he saw, but then Greinke suddenly could not throw a strike. He walked Edwin Encarnacion to load the bases and then sent a run home with a four-pitch walk to Brett Gardner.
Greinke got out of the inning by striking out Gary Sanchez, but the 28-pitch inning was certainly not what the former Cy Young Award winner was hoping for.
1. D.J. LeMahieu 1B
2. Aaron Judge RF
3. Aaron Hicks CF
4. Gleyber Torres 2B
5. Edwin Encarnacion DH
6. Brett Gardner LF
7. Gary Sanchez C
8. Gio Urshela 3B
9. Didi Gregorius SS
Masahiro Tanaka P
1. George Springer CF
2. Jose Altuve 2B
3. Michael Brantley LF
4. Alex Bregman 3B
5. Yuli Gurriel 1B
6. Yordan Alvarez DH
7. Carlos Correa SS
8. Robinson Chirinos C
9. Josh Reddick RF
Zack Greinke P
Pregame Story Lines
A full day of rain in New York on Wednesday pushed Game 4 back by one day, scrambling the pitching situation for both clubhouses. The Yankees and Astros both were most likely set to use a bullpen day on Wednesday, with their top starters low on rest. But with the extra day in between games, the Yankees will start Masahiro Tanaka and the Astros will send out Zack Greinke.
It’s a rematch of Game 1, when Tanaka outdueled Greinke. Both starters lasted six innings, with Tanaka holding the Astros to one hit and no runs, while Greinke gave up seven hits and three runs in an eventual 7-0 Yankees win. The Yankees will hope Tanaka can again eat up innings tonight, as the prospect of four games in four days (if the series goes to seven games) complicates their heavy reliance on the bullpen.