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
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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.

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Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

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