Yankees to Send Masahiro Tanaka Against Astros in Game 1

Arnold Nichols
October 14, 2017

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi paid respect to the Houston Astros, particularly second baseman Jose Altuve. "But now we look back on it and it's probably one of the most magical times that I'll have in my career and it's something I'll never forget, for sure". "There's really not a weakness on either side".

Alex Bregman and Altuve went back-to-back off Red Sox starter Chris Sale in the first inning, and that was just the start of a rude awakening for the AL Cy Young Award candidate in his first career postseason start. In Game 4, their pitchers' fastballs averaged a staggering 98 miles per hour, never once dipping below 96 - and that was with Chapman, who sometimes touches 102 and 103 miles per hour, not even participating. He struck out nine times in those at-bats. They're going to hit their home runs, but they're going to do a lot of other things offensively. Verlander has been impeccable on the mound since joining the Astros from the Tigers at the end of August, and he tossed six strong innings in Game 1 of the ALDS against Boston. "But I think it's just a coincidence that my command and location have been better than what it usually is against them". In other words, they've become very disciplined at the plate and are aggressive about it.

Keuchel is 4-2 with a 1.41 ERA in six career starts against the Bombers - and that doesn't include the lefty's six scoreless innings in the 2015 wild-card playoff game at Yankee Stadium, a start that he calls "one of the most magical times that I'll have in my career". The Astros scored the most runs in baseball this season and have a formidable 1-2 at the top of the rotation with Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel.

Not even 48 hours after the New York Yankees completed their American League Division Series comeback against the Cleveland Indians, they'll be on the field to take on the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

"I know there's a confidence level", Hinch said. "But when I was behind the scenes and got to see these young guys play, perform and the way (Aaron) Judge came out this year, it's no surprise they're in the position they're in".

The stakes: The Yankees haven't played in the ALCS since 2012, an eternity when measured in Steinbrenner Years. He's 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA in the postseason. In the bullpen, Chad Green could be the X-factor as he bridges the gap to David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman, or fills in for one of the relievers in a critical spot. The last time the Astros got this far, it was 2005 - and they were in the National League. On the road, the Astros defeated the Yankees, 3-0.

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