ASTROS WIN THE ALCS!

Empire statement: Houston Astros sweep Yankees en route to second straight World Series

Empire statement: Houston Astros sweep Yankees en route to second straight World Series
The Astros are headed back to the World Series. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

The Houston Astros aimed to shut the door on the 2022 season for the New York Yankees in Game Four of the American League Championship Series, and it is exactly what they did. Houston defeated New York 6-5 to advance to its second straight World Series.

Houston battled all game long against the Yankees, who were determined to win to avoid the sweep. The Astros overcame multiple deficits, including a three-run early hole to come out victorious.

The final mistake for New York came at the top of the seventh inning. In what should have been at least one out on second baseman Jose Altuve, who was running to second base after a hit by shortstop Jeremy Peña, New York second baseman Gleyber Torres threw a bad feed to New York shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa, which resulted in the ball rolling into the outfield.

The error kept Altuve at second and got Peña to first base. Yordan Alvarez followed up by getting a ground ball single to right field that tied the game 5-5. The heart of Houston’s batting order continued to deliver for the Astros. Third baseman Alex Bregman singled on a line drive to right field that made it 6-5, a lead Houston never relinquished.

Houston first turned the game around in the third inning when catcher Martín Maldonado and Altuve got on base with back-to-back walks. The Astros trailed 3-0 entering the inning. The stage was set for Peña to become a game hero.

Peña was able to get into a 3-1 count on pitcher Nester Cortes, who seemed to be battling an injury that caused New York manager Aaron Boone and the team’s training staff to go check on him earlier in the inning. Peña launched a homer to left field that tied the game at three and left the Yankees stunned.

The play sucked the air out of New York’s fans at Yankee Stadium, ignited the Houston faithful in attendance, and was likely the play that ensured the rookie came away with the ALCS Most Valuable Player award. Cortes was then taken out of the game for pitcher Wandy Peralta. New York later stated Cortes had suffered a groin injury.

Peralta was unable to stop the bleeding for the Yankees. Yordan Alvarez doubled on a line drive to right field and Kyle Tucker moved him to third with a single. First baseman Yuli Gurriel delivered the go-ahead hit with a ground ball to right field that allowed Alvarez to score and gave the Astros a 4-3 lead.

Game Four started out ominous from a weather perspective and on the scoreboard. The first pitch didn’t get thrown until a roughly 90-minute delay due to drizzle and the threat of rain. Once the tarp came off the field and the game got rolling, it was the Yankees that jumped out on Houston pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. early.

McCullers struggled against the Yankees’ top of the order in the first inning, giving up three hits and two runs. McCullers’ issues continued in the second inning as he allowed New York shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa to get an inning-opening double.

After recording two outs, McCulllers walked Aaron Judge, which was followed by a double from Anthony Rizzo that scored Kiner-Falefa and made it 3-0 in favor of the Yankees. McCullers had runners on the bases all game long.

When it was all said and done, the 29-year-old pitcher went 5.0 innings, gave up eight hits and allowed four total runs, three of which were earned runs. McCullers also struck out six Yankees. Hector Neris took over in relief in the sixth inning. With two outs, Neris gave up a solo shot to Bader that gave New York a 5-4 lead.

Outside of the run allowed by Neris, Houston’s bullpen went the rest of the way without allowing a run. Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly combined to pitch 3.0 hitless innings and two strikeouts.

Overall, the ALCS saw various Astros star as heroes. In Game One, it was Peña, McCormick and Gurriel, who each homered against the Yankees. In Game Two it was Bregman, who delivered with a three-run homer that carried Houston past New York.

Game Three saw Cristian Javier pitch 5.1 innings giving up only one hit as he struck out five Yankees. Houston had five other pitchers make appearances in the game. They only allowed two hits and struck out six more New York batters. Offensively it was McCormick and Christian Vazquez, who accounted for four of Houston’s runs.

Game Four saw multiple players step up big again. Peña started the rally, Alvarez and Bregman finished it. More importantly, Altuve’s bat has appeared to have awoken. After going 0-for-25 to start the postseason, he got one hit in Game Three. Altuve added two more hits in Game Four.

Houston will now have a few days off until it hosts the Philadelphia Phillies for Game One of the World Series on Friday at Minute Maid Park.

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Yankees defeat Astros, 7-1. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

Oswaldo Cabrera had a career-high four hits with three RBIs and Giancarlo Stanton added a solo homer to lead the New York Yankees over the Houston Astros 7-1 on Friday night.

Manager Aaron Boone is thrilled to see Cabrera's strong start after he struggled early this spring.

“He’s delivered,” Boone said. “In these first two games he’s been right in the middle of everything. And it’s so good to see him swinging the bat like this and contributing offensively like this because then he becomes so valuable.”

The victory, in which second baseman Gleyber Torres exited after being on the hand with a pitch, came after New York rallied from a four-run deficit for a 5-4 win in Thursday night’s season opener.

Juan Soto had three hits and put the Yankees ahead when he drew a bases-loaded walk in a two-run seventh.

Cristian Javier limited the Yankees to four hits across six scoreless innings before they broke through in the seventh.

Tayler Scott (0-1) walked Anthony Volpe and Austin Wells with one out in the seventh. Cabrera singled on a grounder to left field to score Volpe and tie it at 1-1.

Scott then hit Torres on the right hand with a 93.1 mph fastball, loading the bases. Torres fell to the ground and writhed in a pain for a couple of minutes before being checked by an athletic trainer and remaining in the game.

He took the field to start the bottom of the seventh but was replaced by Jahmai Jones during a mound visit with one out in the inning.

Boone said X-rays were negative and Torres, who said it hit him on the right thumb, added he's a little sore but hopes to play Saturday.

Rafael Montero took over after Torres was plunked and walked Soto, who led the majors in walks in each of the last three seasons.

New York tacked on four more runs in the eighth thanks in large part to Houston’s sloppy defense.

“We are a really good defensive team and, and we we didn’t play good defense there at the end,” Espada said.

New York had runners on first and second with one out when an error by shortstop Jeremy Peña allowed Anthony Rizzo to score and make it 3-1. Wells' sacrifice was fielded by Parker Mushinski, but the pitcher badly overthrew first base for another error that allowed Wells to reach and another run to score.

Cabrera followed with a two-run single that pushed the lead to 6-1. His big game came after he had two hits, including a solo homer in the opener.

“I'm so happy for it,” he said. “We've been working during spring training to have good at-bats and I feel good for these couple of games.”

Stanton connected off Brandon Bielak with one out in the ninth to send many Houston fans streaming for the exits. Most of the remaining fans were wearing New York gear and soon chants of: ‘let’s go Yankees’ filled the ballpark.

Luke Weaver (1-0) pitched 1 1/3 hitless innings. New York starter Carlos Rodón allowed five hits and a run with three walks in 4 1/3 innings, and Clayton Beeter, a 25-year-old right-hander, made his major league debut for the Yankees with a one-hit ninth.

Jose Altuve hit a leadoff double and scored when Alex Bregman singled with two outs on a ball to center that a diving Alex Verdugo deflected.

UP NEXT

Right-hander Marcus Stroman makes his Yankees debut against Hunter Brown when the series continues Saturday night. Stroman signed a $37 million, two-year contract to join the Yankees this offseason.

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