The Yankees will try for a 2-0 lead in the American League Championship Series when they face the Astros in Houston. We will be following along with live updates and analysis.
5th Inning: George Springer Ties Game
A questionable pitching change by Aaron Boone has this game tied after five innings.
After Justin Verlander pitched a quiet top half of the inning, Chad Green started the bottom half by striking out the rookie Kyle Tucker, who had come in as a pinch-hitter for Jake Marisnick. That made Green perfect through six batters, but with George Springer coming up, Boone brought in Adam Ottavino in hopes that the veteran’s wicked slider could neutralize Houston’s slugger.
It did not work. Springer homered to left-center field on the first pitch Ottavino threw — a slider.
After Springer’s homer, there was a brief delay in the game when a foul ball off the bat of Michael Brantley struck a member of the security staff in Houston’s dugout. Brantley, who looked stricken after the incident, proceeded to strike out but reached first when Gary Sanchez could not corral the wild pitch in the dirt.
With Brantley running on the pitch on the first pitch of the next at-bat, Jose Altuve hit a sharp grounder to Didi Gregorius’s right that the shortstop was able to knock down but was unable to make any sort of play on, putting runners at first and second for Alex Bregman, with the crowd exploding with “M.V.P.!” chants. Ottavino struck out Bregman, but then was pulled in favor of Tommy Kahnle, who struck out Yordan Alvarez to end the inning.
David Waldstein: Michael Brantley hit a hard foul ball into the Astros dugout and it hit someone, apparently a security guard. Several of the Astros players, including Brantley, were visibly shaken by it and A.J. Hinch had to come out and reassure Brantley as the guard was attended to by the Astros’ medical staff. Eventually, the guard was able to walk out of the dugout, escorted by one of the trainers.
Brantley still appeared to be shaken while he was on second base and during a pitching change he was called over to the Astros dugout, where Gerrit Cole came out and chatted to him briefly. Whatever Cole told Brantley — hopefully it was that the guard will be fine — it seemed to cheer Brantley up a bit because he patted Cole on the back and jogged back to second base.
4th Inning: Judge’s Homer Gives Yankees the Lead
Things had looked dire for the Yankees through three innings, but they are now leading, 2-1, after four.
They finally got their first base runner off Justin Verlander when D.J. LeMahieu walked to start the top half of the fourth and Aaron Judge made Verlander pay for that mistake by blasting a slider over the center-field fence for a 423-foot home run. It was Judge’s first home run of the postseason.
Verlander settled down after the homer. He got Gleyber Torres to fly out to right and then struck out both Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Gardner to end the half-inning.
Staked to a lead, Chad Green was back for more work in the fourth and got through things quickly, retiring Yuli Gurriel on a liner to center, striking out Carlos Correa and getting Robinson Chirinos to line out to left.
David Waldstein: So much for Verlander’s slider being good. He left one up and over the plate for the Judge homer. Verlander has given up 70 earned runs this season, including the postseason, and 39 have come on home runs (36 in the regular season).
The Astros have had seven base runners and scored only one run through three innings. The Yankees have had two and both scored. They will need to do more damage when they have the chances.
3rd Inning: Yankees Go to the Bullpen Early
With Justin Verlander dealing and the Yankees already in a hole, Manager Aaron Boone went to a reliever with just one out in the third inning, meaning this will be a long night for the Yankees’ bullpen.
It’s hard to blame Boone for feeling desperate, as Verlander has yet to allow a base runner. In the top half of the inning, he retired Gio Urshela on a fly ball to right, struck out Cameron Maybin on three pitches, and got Didi Gregorius to fly out to right. He’s up to four strikeouts and has seemed even more dominant than that.
James Paxton, on the other hand, was good, but not quite good enough. He started the bottom of the third by striking out George Springer but then allowed a bloop single to right-center by Michael Brantley. With relievers already warming up in the bullpen, Paxton allowed a sharp liner to right from Jose Altuve and with that his day was done.
Chad Green came on in relief and while Alex Bregman smoked another ball to the outfield, this one ended up in the glove of Cameron Maybin, who appeared to be struggling with the glare of the lights at Minute Maid Park. He then ended the inning by getting Yordan Alvarez to pop out to short.
David Waldstein: Justin Verlander looks completely different than the pitcher who was rocked in Game 4 of the division series. Verlander was pitching on short rest in that game and said he did not have command of his slider. But he looks locked in and effective tonight, and the slider is sharp.
2nd Inning: Astros Take the Lead
The Astros got on the scoreboard first when Carlos Correa doubled on a grounder that shot through the infield, making it 1-0 Houston. But James Paxton stranded a pair of runners who had been threatening to make things worse.
Justin Verlander had made things look exceedingly easy in the top-half of the inning; he has needed only 28 pitches to erase all six batters he’s faced. Edwin Edwin Encarnacion appeared to pop out before it was determined that the ball ricocheted off a girder and then came back into play, making it a dead ball. Given a second life, he struck out instead. Brett Gardner was frozen for strike three on a vicious slider and Gary Sanchez flied out to shallow center.
Leading off the bottom half of the inning, Alex Bregman hit an absolute rocket that came off his bat at 107 miles per hour on its way to the wall — so fast that the Houston third baseman managed only a single. Paxton walked Houston’s power-hitting phenom, Yordan Alvarez, putting runners on first and second, which turned to first and third when Yuli Gurriel lined out to right.
That brought up Correa, who smoked a grounder past Gio Urshela at third that rolled all the way to the wall for a double, scoring Bregman for the 26th postseason R.B.I. of the shortstop’s career (a club record). Paxton struck out Robinson Chirinos and got out of the inning when he struck out Jake Marisnick.
David Waldstein: Some interesting numbers on the history of Game 2: Since the league championship series went to the best-of-seven format in 1985, only 3 of 30 teams have come back from 0-2 deficits in games to win the series: The last was the Boston Red Sox, who erased a 0-3 deficit against the Yankees in 2004. In1985 the Kansas City Royals did it against the Toronto Blue Jays and the same year the St. Louis Cardinals did it against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But according to Major League Baseball, teams that have won Game 2, regardless of the outcome in Game 1, have gone on to advance to the World Series 19 of the last 21 times, and 28 out of 34 times over all, or 82 percent.
1st Inning: No Action as of Yet
It was an exceptionally quiet first inning.
Justin Verlander made quick work of the Yankees in the top half of the inning. The first batter he faced, D.J. LeMahieu, lined the second pitch of the game right into the glove of Carlos Correa, and his next three pitches all found their way past Aaron Judge for a strikeout. By comparison he labored in a four-pitch at-bat to Gleyber Torres in which he fell behind, 2-0, but recovered to get the red-hot Torres to fly out to center.
James Paxton responded by opening the bottom half of the inning by walking the ice-cold George Springer. He made up for his mistake by inducing a 4-6-3 double-play from Michael Brantley. Paxton then ran the count full against Jose Altuve but got out of the inning when the former M.V.P. lined out to short.
Maybin Replaces Stanton in Yankees’ Lineup
Cameron Maybin will start in left in place of Giancarlo Stanton in Game 2.
According to James Wagner of The Times: “Giancarlo Stanton injured his quad running down the line on his infield hit but was O.K. enough to play further into the game, per Aaron Boone. He received an MRI and a strain was revealed. Boone hopes Stanton will return this series.”
James said Boone told reporters that Stanton was available off the bench or in emergency situations, but given Stanton’s injury it is more likely the Yankees will not use him.
Keys to the Game
Justin Verlander is an intimidating presence on the mound and is easily on the short list for the best pitcher in the majors over the last four seasons alongside Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Chris Sale. His lone weakness is the long ball; Verlander has allowed 121 home runs over those four years, compared with 94 for Scherzer, 86 for Sale and 72 for deGrom. That weakness could seem glaring against a Yankees lineup that hit 306 home runs this season — just one fewer than the Twins, who set a major league record — and added three more in Game 1.