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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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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