Yankees force another game with Astros unable to put up enough runs

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: Astros fall to Yankees in ALCS Game 5 as bats go quiet

Justin Verlander
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Justin Verlander's bad first inning too much for the Astros to overcome in ALCS Game 5

After taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the series by winning games 2, 3, and 4, the Yankees fought back with their backs against the wall to take Game 5 against the Astros 4-1 to extend the series at least one more game.

The most significant offense took place in the first inning, with both James Paxton and Justin Verlander settling in after that. However, it would be the Yankees who would capitalize on a bigger first inning, fueling them to the win. Here is how the game shook out:

Final Score: Yankees 4, Astros 1.

Series: Astros lead 3-2.

Winning Pitcher: James Paxton.

Losing Pitcher: Justin Verlander.

Astros score first, but Yankees tag Verlander with a huge response

After several errors in Game 4, the Astros were able to capitalize on fielding mishaps by the Yankees in the top of the first inning to take an immediate lead. George Springer started the game by grounding a ball through the middle of the infield, getting past James Paxton and unable to be fielded by Gleyber Torres, giving him a leadoff single.

He then moved to second on a passed ball, then on to third on a groundout by Jose Altuve before scoring on a wild pitch, giving Houston the quick 1-0 lead. New York responded with a big first inning of their own against Justin Verlander, getting a leadoff home run from DJ LeMahieu to tie the game before going on to get two baserunners to set up a three-run home run by Aaron Hicks to take a 4-1 lead.

Verlander settles in after the rough first inning to complete seven

The game would continue with the 4-1 score as both James Paxton and Justin Verlander rebounded from their first innings to hold the opposing offense in check. Paxton would surprisingly finish six strong innings, throwing effective pitches that resulted in nine strikeouts against Houston's bats.

Verlander, meanwhile, settled in after the four-run first inning and dominated through his remaining innings, although his offense would be unable to get him any runs while he was still in the game. He would go on to complete seven innings, allowing just one hit in innings two through seven. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 2 HR.

Yankees live to see another day

With Paxton's night done, the Astros threatened in the top of the seventh against New York's bullpen, getting two on base with one out, but both would be left stranded to waste another scoring opportunity. They would then go down in order in the top of the eighth. Brad Peacock took over for Verlander to throw the bottom of the eighth, getting a 1-2-3 frame to send the game to the ninth.

In the top of the ninth, the Astros would come up empty once again, allowing the Yankees to stay alive in the series. The series now shifts to Houston, where the Astros will try to finish things on Saturday without going to a Game 7.

Up Next: With the Yankees forcing another game, the ALCS will move back to Houston for Game 6 and a Game 7 if needed. Game 6 will be Saturday at 7:08 PM Central, with both clubs expected to have a bullpen day.

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM

Following Houston's 6-4 road trip, the Astros returned home to finish the first "half" of the season before the All Star break hosting Florida and Texas. Houston's road trip was filled with clutch performances in New York, dominance in taking 3 of 4 in Toronto, and a dose of close calls and tough realities with a short-handed team against Minnesota.

Now the Astros hope to take care of business against the lowly Marlins and division rival Rangers. The Texas series, in particular gives Houston the opportunity to reassert their hold on the #2 spot ahead of the Rangers who have won their last 5 games in a row (as of the time this was published). Both teams have won 7 of their last 10 games and hope to catch a free-falling Seattle team to overtake the division lead.

Dana Brown told the media last week he expects both Justin Verlander and Kyle Tucker to be reactivated following the All-Star break but Tucker's updates continue to be more promising than Verlander's and MUCH more promising than Lance McCullers. Astros manager informed the media this week that McCullers has been shut down from throwing after his arm did not respond well to his recent bullpen sessions and the team is formulating the plan for what's next for the embattled pitcher. McCullers hasn't pitched since the 2022 postseason and underwent season-ending flexor tendon surgery last June. McCullers is under contract with Houston until 2026.

An eventual return for Kyle Tucker would spur a juggling act from Joe Espada to find a proper balance of time for all his outfielders, none of which have separated themselves offensively. Chas McCormick had a great month of June recording an .804 OPS but that run looks more like an anomaly as his scuffles have continued over the past 2.5 weeks, recording just 4 hits over his last 32 plate appearances.

While Jake Meyers has wowed fans and teammates with his glove this season, his offense has hit a skid, hitting just .184 with a .565 OPS over the past month. After rookie Joey Loperfido's torrid debut, he too has struggled with the bat, hitting just .216 with .599 OPS over the same time period.

An unexpected bright spot has been the recent play of first baseman Jon Singleton. Over the last 4 weeks, "Big Jon" is batting .302 with an .802 OPS. It's worth mentioning that Singleton's season numbers are better than Florida's Josh Bell, who drew interest from Astros fans over the past several seasons as a potential answer at first base. Bell has 135 more ABs this season so its not quite an apples-to-apples comparison but there's no doubt Singleton's contributions were sorely needed following the release of Jose Abreu.

To watch part 1 of this week's episode of Stone Cold StrosStone Cold Stros, just click the video above or to listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

Amazon | Apple | iHeart | Spotify

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome