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Verlander Ks 11 and take the lead Astros to victory over Yankees 4-2 in the ALCS

HOUSTON –The moment Justin Verlander began struggling and required 45 pitches to complete 2 innings Astros Manager Dusty Baker was concerned that he’d be forced go to the bullpen before the game.

However, the veteran ace slowed down and was able to find his groove, striking out 11 over six solid innings to take the lead in Houston in the AL C against New York Yankees 4-2 in their AL C

“This guy, he has mental toughness,” Baker stated. “When he’s down and out and it looks like you got him in trouble, this guy, he can dial it up.”

Yuli Gurriel hit an unbeatable hit in the sixth inning for Houston at the 6th. Chas McCormick as well as Jeremy Pena also went deep as the AL West champions improved to 4-1 in the playoffs following being 106-56 in their regular-season.

The Astros are currently in their sixth straight ALCS and are hoping to make it to the World Series for the fourth time, against an New York team in the LCS for the first time since they were exiled by Houston in the 2019 season.

Game was tied 1-1 after Gurriel hit the reliever Clarke Schmidt for a solo shot to the seats in left field to make it 3-1. Houston in the lead. After two batters, McCormick hit a strong shot from Schmidt into the right field to make the score 3-1.

“I didn’t do my job today,” Schmidt stated.

Verlander established the record for major leagues with his eighth game in which he scored double-digit strikeouts during the postseason. He surpassed Clayton Kershaw (213) to be the top player in career postseason strikeouts, with 219.

“As the game’s going along, you just gain more confidence as you start making better pitches,” Verlander stated. “Once I started being able to execute my pitches the way I wanted, I feel like my confidence just kind of built upon that.”

New York was a sloppy 17 times with only two errors in the case of their Astros which was the most significant gap ever seen in a postseason match.

“They’re obviously really dynamic,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Outstanding starting pitching but can make the game shorter with the best of them. Therefore, we must discover a way to break through them.”

Pena, who hit a homer in the 18th inning to complete the sweep of the Mariners in the ALDS hit an RBI on Frankie Montas to start the seventh and push an advantage to 4-1. Montas started his first game since September. 16 due to an injury to his shoulder that prevented him from being on his Division Series roster.

Anthony Rizzo homered off Rafael Montero with two outs in the eighth inning to bring the Yankees just two points away. Giancarlo Stanton hit a single before Josh Donaldson walked, spurring Baker to make a comeback with pitcher Ryan Pressly.

He pitched out Matt Carpenter to end the first inning, as he pitched an 1-2-3 9th inning to make it four-out safe.

Carpenter Recently recovered from a foot injury was fanned four times.

“The way (Verlander) threw the ball tonight, I could have played for the last two months and it would have been a tough day,” Verlander told reporters.

After struggling in the first game in the ALDS against Seattle Verlander appeared unsure at times in this one after allowing an in-game homer for Harrison Bader that put the Yankees ahead 1-1. Bader’s home was his fourth hit in the six playoff games, his first four long ball for New York.

However, the Astros held it off in the second half with an RBI double from Martin Maldonado.

The Astros were granted the day off after defeating Seattle in a game on the weekend. The Yankees had rapid turnaround following their rain-induced Game 5 against the Guardians at home on Tuesday before traveling to Houston.

They were able to get runners in third and second, and one was out in the third following an RBI by Stanton and Verlander, but the defender hit to the outside of Donaldson along with Carpenter to get out of the jam.

“I gave it everything I had to try to get a couple strikeouts and was able to do that,” Verlander stated. “Then from there, that kind of mentality, just keep making your pitches and a couple adjustments that I was able to make fairly quickly on the off-speed stuff really paid off.”

It was the first of six consecutive strikeouts by Verlander, which set the record for the postseason. This is the second time he’s equaled the record after having six consecutive strikeouts during Game 3 in the 2013 ALCS for Detroit.

“I believed early that we’d have our chance. I don’t think he seemed very sharp at first but he then kind of got it dialed into place,” Boone said. “He began to execute and avoiding danger. I think he spun the ball extremely well.”

Verlander was unable to allow a baserunner to reach after the third inning, he retired his 11 batters in the last 11 innings by striking out nine. When he retired Carpenter to close the sixth, he kicked his fist before stepping off to a roaring ovation from the predominantly yellow-clad fans at home.

“We couldn’t really get anything going against him,” said Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who was not a hit for four. “We couldn’t really come up with that timely hit early on to keep him on his toes.”

A two-time Cy Young Award winner as well as a nine-time All-Star allowed the team to score three runs and one hit in his 32nd postseason game 11th in the series opener. This was his first win in playoffs since his win in 2019.

Pena doubled twice prior to his homer that gave him seven hits during the postseason. Three extra-base hits were an all-time record for rookies in an postseason game.

The impressive performances of Pena who was able to take the position of Carlos Correa at shortstop this season, have been a boon for the Astros this month, as the superstar Jose Altuve has struggled.

“It’s everything I’ve dreamed of,” Pena stated regarding his postseason debut. “The setting and the fans as well as the crowd and the effort that is put into every game. It’s fun.”

Altuve who is a three-time bat champion, was on a 0-3 streak with a walk. He is 0 for 19 in this postseason.

Stanton played in left field, with Aaron Hicks sidelined for the rest of the season due to the injury to his knee sustained during an outfield collision on Tuesday. Stanton’s first time on the field since the 21st of July and his rust began to show early when he wasn’t able to catch the fly ball that Pena hit to score an RBI in the first.

New York starter Jameson Taillon was walked by Yordan Alvarez in the ensuing inning however Judge took away Alex Bregman of a hit and saved at most one run, and possibly more by making an edging catch in right field to get two outs in the innings.

Taillon recorded four hits and a hit during 4 1/3 of an inning.

PETTIS OUT

Astros Third base coach Gary Pettis was out because due to illness. Second base coach Omar Lopez filled in for Pettis along with quality control assistant Dan Firova coached first.

CLEMENS RETURNS

Roger Clemens, who pitched for both the Yankees and Astros over a span of 24 years which included a record-setting seven Cy Young Awards, threw an official first pitch.

He stepped a few feet ahead of the ball before throwing his perfect hit to Houston player Lance McCullers.

“Every time I get out there, he looks further and further (away),” the 60-year-old Clemens told the media. “So, I’m just glad it made it there.”

When asked for a prediction on the game, Clemens didn’t give any information about which team he’s predicting this week.

“I think it’s going to go to seven games,” said the player. “And that’s it.”

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