ALCS Game 2

Astros-Yankees: Gutsy Altuve scores in the ninth as Astros win 2-1, take 2-0 series lead

Justin Verlander was sick in Game 2. Elsa/Getty Images

Justin Verlander proved in Game 2 of the ALCS that not only was the trade for him a terrific move for the Astros, it may prove to be the difference in these playoffs. Carlos Correa also proved that he is arguably the future of the sport.

Verlander pitched a complete game on Saturday including thirteen strikeouts while Correa homered and hit the walk-off hit as the Astros beat the Yankees 2-1 and take a 2-0 lead in the ALCS.

 Verlander started out hot in the top of the first inning by recording two strikeouts and a pop out to retire the Yankees in order. Luis Severino allowed a hit to, no surprise, Jose Altuve and walked Carlos Correa with two-outs, but was able to strand them with a groundout to end the inning.

In the second, Starlin Castro was able to fight off a pitch for a broken-bat grounder that dribbled slowly enough to beat out Altuve's throw for the Yankees first hit of the day. Verlander followed that with a strikeout, his fourth of the game, to end the top of the inning. Yuli Gurriel kept his .500 postseason batting average intact with a leadoff walk to start the bottom of the inning but was part of an inning-ending double play to keep the game scoreless.

Josh Reddick made a spectacular catch at the wall to rob Chase Headley of at the least a double and maybe a home run in the top of the third inning. Brett Gardner hit a ball into the corner and nearly got a triple out of it, but after a review was called out on a terrific relay throw from Reddick to Correa to Alex Bregman. Severino retired the Astros in order in the bottom of the inning.

Things remained quiet and scoreless in the top of the fourth as Verlander retired the side on 9 pitches with a groundout and two flyouts. Carlos Correa came through with the first run of the game on a solo home run to right field to put the Astros up 1-0 before Severino ended the inning.

After getting two quick strikeouts to start the top of the fifth, the Yankees were able to tie the game off of Verlander with a double by Aaron Hicks followed by a ground-rule double by Todd Frazier when the ball got caught in the bullpen fence in left-center. Verlander was able to limit the damage there with a lineout to end the top of the inning. The Yankees went to their bullpen in the bottom of the fifth, likely a result of Severino being hit on his glove hand by a comebacker by Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth. Tommy Kahnle was the relief pitcher and despite a walk to Alex Bregman was able to keep the game tied 1-1.

Verlander bounced back from the rough fifth inning to make quick work of the Yankees in the top of the sixth, including two more strikeouts, bringing his total to eight. Kahnle returned for the bottom of the sixth for the Yankees and retired all three Astros, including a rare strikeout of Altuve, to keep the game tied at 1 going into the seventh.

In the seventh, Verlander recorded two more strikeouts to become the fourth Astro with 10 or more strikeouts in a playoff game less than 24 hours after Keuchel became the third. David Robertson took over for the Yankees in the bottom of the inning, and despite giving up a two-out double to Gurriel was able to get out of the inning with the game remaining knotted up.

Verlander returned to start the eighth and struck out the side, the last of which was the thirteenth of the day on his 109th pitch. Robertson also had a quick inning in the bottom half, retiring the Astros on six pitches to send the game to the ninth still tied up 1-1.

Verlander came back out and was able to complete nine innings on 124 pitches after getting two popouts and a groundout to strand Didi Gregorius who singled earlier in the inning. Aroldis Chapman came in for the Yankees, and after a strikeout to Reddick gave up a single to Altuve. Correa was up next and hit the walk-off hit to score the game as Altuve ran home on a ball that was nearly thrown home in time to beat him but was lost by catcher Gary Sanchez, allowing the Astros to get the win 2-1.

Game 3: The Astros and Yankees get the day off tomorrow to travel to New York for the next few games of the series at Yankee Stadium. First pitch of Game 3 is scheduled for 7:08 PM Central on Monday night. A.J. Hinch has named Charlie Morton the starter for the Astros. Morton is coming off a relatively strong game; he was the starter in Game 4 of the ALDS where he threw six strikeouts in his four and one-third innings of work as the Astros went on to win and clinch that series. The Yankees will start CC Sabathia who pitched well in the decisive Game 5 of their ALDS against the Indians.

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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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