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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Houston scored in droves

Astros drub Twins in finale to take series win

Houston's offense showered Minnesota with hits in Sunday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games, with Houston's offense uncharacteristically ineffective in the loss on Saturday, they tried to turn things around with a win to take the series on Sunday. The Astros would bounce right back at the plate, getting hits and runs all through the afternoon to rout the Twins.

Final Score: Astros 14, Twins 3

Astros' Record: 37-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (3-0)

Losing Pitcher: Michael Pineda (3-4)

Valdez keeps rolling

Framber Valdez continued to impress in 2021 after starting his season on the IL, posting another quality start with a win against the Twins. After four scoreless frames, he allowed a solo homer to start the bottom of the fifth, just the third hit of the game for Minnesota to that point. He went on to retire the next three batters to get through the inning.

He faltered a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff double followed by a single, with a run coming across on an error on that play. He once again rebounded to finish that frame, then put up a 1-2-3 seventh to finish his day off, notching another quality start and a win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 97 P.

Houston keeps their foot on the gas

While Valdez's outing was a highlight of its own, Houston's offense was the story of the day. They put their foot down on the pedal all day and did not let up, starting in the top of the first when Jose Altuve turned the first pitch of the game around for a single, later scoring on a sac fly by Alex Bregman to put the Astros in front 1-0.

After two scoreless innings, they got right back on the scoreboard in the fourth with a two-run homer by Kyle Tucker, then kept pouring it on with two runs in the fifth on a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel and an error, making it 5-0 at the time. The runs kept coming in the top of the sixth, with a two-RBI double by Michael Brantley, who would score later on a two-run bomb by Yordan Alvarez. Then, in the top of the seventh, Brantley struck again to push it to double-digits with a two-RBI single to make it 11-2 and give Brantley 4 RBI on the afternoon.

With Houston swapping out starters with the hefty lead, even their pinch-hitters were getting involved, with Chas McCormick leading the top of the eighth off with a solo shot to make it a ten-run game. They then loaded the bases with no outs, setting up a sac fly for Myles Straw to make it 13-2.

Astros take the series

In the bottom of the eighth, Ralph Garza Jr. came in as the first reliever out of the bullpen for Houston. He recorded two quick outs but then met Nelson Cruz, who lasered a solo homer to put it back at a ten-run game before finishing the frame. Houston put their twentieth hit on the board in the top of the ninth, their highest total this season, en route to another scoring inning with a sac fly by Robel Garcia to make it 14-3. Garza came in for his second inning of work to wrap things up in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Astros a successful end to this series and road trip.

Up Next: Houston will travel home before an off day on Monday to rest before 20 days of consecutive games. They'll kick off a six-game homestand on Tuesday, welcoming in the Rangers for two starting at 7:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (3-1, 2.96 ERA) will make his return from the IL for the Astros, though Jake Odorizzi will "piggy-back" him, and Kyle Gibson (4-0, 2.13 ERA) will take the mound for Texas.

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