ALCS Game 5

Astros hit charade continues in 5-0 loss as Yankees take 3-2 series lead

Dallas Keuchel exits early after a rough start against the Yankees. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The New York Yankees made it three great home games in a row Wednesday night, taking advantage of another woeful night for the Astros' offense, a rough start by Dallas Keuchel, and a great start from Masahiro Tanaka to take a 3-2 lead in the ALCS. The Yankees are now one win away from eliminating the Astros and moving to the World Series.

The Yankees tagged Keuchel with four earned runs while getting seven shutout innings from Tanaka including eight strikeouts as the Yankees beat the Astros 5-0 to win three straight in front of their home crowd and go ahead in the series.

Game 5 got underway with a long fly ball from George Springer caught by Aaron Judge near the right-field wall. Jose Altuve reached base on a two-out error by Todd Frazier but was unable to advance as Tanaka got a groundout from Carlos Correa to end the top of the first. Keuchel took the mound in the bottom of the first and retired the Yankees in order with two strikeouts, sending the game to the second scoreless like every other game in this series has.

In the top of the second, Yuli Gurriel recorded the first hit of the game with a leadoff double into the left-field corner, continuing his strong offensive postseason. Alex Bregman moved Gurriel to third with a groundout for the first out but he was left stranded there after two groundouts. Starlin Castro notched the first hit for the Yankees on a double to the left-center wall, then came around to score on a Greg Bird single into the right-field corner to give New York a 1-0 lead. Keuchel bounced back with a strikeout to end the inning.

Springer reached base on a one-out bloop single to center in the top of the third, then moved to second on a groundout by Josh Reddick, but became another stranded runner after an Altuve groundout. Chase Headley led off the bottom of the inning with a single but was thrown out at second on a groundball by Brett Gardner for the first out. Gardner would come around to score and make it 2-0 Yankees on a double down the third-base line by Judge. Keuchel struck out the next two batters, raising his total to six, to end the inning, but still left the Astros in a 2-0 hole.

Tanaka had his first 1-2-3 inning of the game in the top of the fourth on a strikeout and two groundouts to retire the Astros in order. Keuchel responded with a quick inning of his own, getting through the bottom of the fourth on 11 pitches including two more strikeouts, sending the game to the fifth still 2-0 in favor of the Yankees.

Marwin Gonzalez hit a one-out single in the top of the fifth, then advanced on a wild pitch, followed by a walk to Brian McCann to put runners on first and second with one out. They would become two more runners stranded, though, as Tanaka would get back-to-back strikeouts of Springer and Reddick to end the threat. Headley hit a slow ground ball to Bregman at third who threw the ball off-line to first, allowing Headley to move to second and avoid the out. After a two-out walk to Judge, Gary Sanchez hit a RBI single into the left-field corner to add another run to the Yankees lead, making it 3-0. Didi Gregorius followed and hit a grounder past Altuve to score another run and end Keuchel's night down 4-0 with two outs in the fifth. Will Harris followed Keuchel and was able to get the last out of the inning.

Tanaka continued to dominate in the top of the sixth, getting yet another 1-2-3 inning. Harris came back out for the bottom of the inning and was able to get two outs but issued a walk and two-out double to put runners on second and third before being pulled in favor of Brad Peacock. Peacock was able to get a strikeout to end the inning and send the 4-0 game to the seventh.

Tanaka started the top of the seventh with his pitch count at 90 and was able to get through the half inning with a fly out and two strikeouts, the second of which was his eighth of the night on his 103rd pitch. Peacock returned for the bottom of the seventh and allowed a one-out solo home run to Sanchez to extend the Yankees lead to 5-0. Gregorius followed with a double but was stranded as Peacock was able to get a strikeout and groundout to get out of the seventh.

Tommy Kahnle was the first out of the Yankees bullpen and pitched the top of the eighth, another easy one as the Astros went down in order on just nine pitches. Francisco Liriano pitched the bottom of the inning for the Astros and worked around a leadoff walk to send the game to the ninth still 5-0.

Kahnle worked his second inning in the top of the ninth, and despite giving up a one-out double to Correa was able to finish the shutout and seal the 5-0 win for the Yankees.

Game 6: The series returns home to Houston for at least another game, and possibly a Game 7 if needed. Game 6 is scheduled for 7:08 PM Central Friday night and can be seen on FS1. Neither team has announced their starters officially, but it is likely to be a rematch of Game 2 which pitted Justin Verlander for the Astros against Luis Severino for the Yankees. The Astros will look to get the offense to come back to life in the confines of Minute Maid Park and force a decisive Game 7.

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RAVENS 33, TEXANS 16

5 observations from the Ravens win over the Texans

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Let's be honest; the Texans were not going to beat the Ravens. Baltimore has better players, a better quarterback and a better coaching staff. (And oh, a better kicker). All of that was on display in the Ravens' 33-16 win.

The Ravens move to 2-0, while the Texans dropped to 0-2 after facing the AFC's two best teams.

The Texans will still likely contend for a playoff spot, but nothing the last two weeks indicates they are anywhere near contending in the AFC. A look at five things from the Ravens win:

1) Oh, Brien...It did not take long for Bill O'Brien's goofy coaching to rear its ugly head. Down 3-0 at their own 34 as the first quarter was running out, O'Brien chose to go for it on fourth and one. The play was predictably blown up, the Ravens quickly scored to make it 10-0, and the Texans were instantly in a hole against a superior opponent. You can't give points away against the Ravens. They might have scored anyway with a punt, but there was no stopping them with a short field.

2) Some positives on defense. Despite the score, The Texans looked much better on that side of the ball against an explosive offense. J.J. Watt had two sacks, the team had four total, and they kept Lamar Jackson from destroying them. Seven of the points were scored by the Ravens defense, and O'Brien's gaffe led to seven more. The Ravens wore them down in the fourth quarter, but they played well enough until then to keep the team in the game had the offense been better. They did not force any turnovers, however, and that was one of the differences in the game. They were also blown off the ball on a fourth and one in the fourth quarter that led to the Ravens' 30th points and could not stop the run at all in the fourth quarter. But that's what the Ravens do with a lead, and the Texans offense gave them no breaks by being unable to stay on the field.

3) The difference between real contenders...The Ravens were just so much more skilled on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they focused on taking away the run. David Johnson averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Will Fuller had as many catches as you did. The Ravens forced two turnovers on just really good football plays. The Texans don't make plays like that. They might against lesser teams, but if your goal is to compete with the best, it's just not good enough.

4) Deshaun Watson needs to be better. His numbers looked so so on the surface (25 of 36, 275 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). He was sacked four times and added 17 rushing yards on five carries. He did not make plays late when they needed one here or there to maybe get back in the game. With his big contract, it's time for Watson to stop being close to elite and take the next step. His interception was more of being fooled by Marcus Peters than throwing a bad ball, but the Texans were just 3 of 9 on third downs. Throw in the ill-advised fourth down play, and they were just 3 of 10 extending drives. Give the Ravens a lot of credit, but again, to compete with the best, you have to be better than that.

5) Now what? The Texans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who have not been impressive in their two wins. Still, it's hard to see Houston as anything but serious underdogs. They are last in the AFC South, and have a lot of work to do. The defense showed some promise at times, but will have to continue to improve. The offense has a long way to go. They match up better with the Steelers than they do the Ravens and Chiefs, but that does not mean they can win. If you were hoping they would give you some indication they can be more than just also-rans, they failed to do that on any level against either the Chiefs or Ravens.

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