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

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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.

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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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