Yankees Archnemesis Astros Take Control Of ALCS

To defeat the Yankees Archnemesis. the Houston Astros, New York's <a rel=
To defeat the Yankees Archnemesis. the Houston Astros, New York’s Aaron Judge must return to his regular season MVP form Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Astros Have Become Yankees Archnemesis In The Postseason

According to John Watson in the popular series “Sherlock” normal people do not have an archnemesis. New York begs to disagree. The Yankees’ archnemesis, the Houston Astros, stand in their way again of making the World Series. After the first three innings the Yankees yesterday New York did nothing against Houston’s pitching. Justin Verlander struggled to find his footing early on and New York did not capitalize. If they lose to the Astros again it would make the fourth time in seven years. Houston defeated the Yankees in the wild-card game in 2015, as well as the 2017 and 2019 ALCS.

In the first three innings, Framber Valdez falls behind five Yankees hitters 2-0. Only one New York hitter, Josh Donaldson, gets on base with a double. His curveball and sinker both have been effective so far. Luis Severino got out of trouble in the second inning, stranding runners at first and second. Alex Bregman makes him pay in the third, sending a 97 MPH fastball down the line for a 3-0 lead for Houston. Severino hit Martin Maldonado and gave up a single to Jeremy Pena ahead of Bregman.

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Alex Bregman made himself heard as the Astros strike first against New York. The Yankees archnemesis looks to push them to the brink again Photo by F. Carter Smith

Yankees Strike Back Against Valdez

Valdez proved to be his own worst enemy in the top of the fourth. Aaron Judge singled on a hard hit ball that zipped past Bregman. Then Valdez could not field Giancarlo Stanton‘s grounder cleanly, throwing the ball away down the first base line. Runners were then on second and third, allowing soft contact to score two runs. Anthony Rizzo grounded out to first, and Glayber Torres reached on an infield single to cut the lead to 3-2.

Severino bounced back in the top of the fourth, quickly setting down Houston. Valdez worked around a two-out single, getting Judge to pop out to Aledmys Diaz on his out pitch, the curve ball. One hitter that cannot find any success is Jose Altuve. His pop-out makes him 0-22 in the postseason. Yordan Alvarez’s strikes out gave him no hits in his last 12 at-bats, dating back to the end of the ALDS against the Seattle Mariners. Severino bounces back well from the Bregman home run.

Astros rookie Pena makes the best defensive play of the night so far. Torres’s ground ball bounces off a diving Bregman right to Pena, who throws to Yuli Gurriel for the out. Severino’s leash proves very short in the sixth. A one-out single to Kyle Tucker ends his night. Jonathan Loisaga, one of New York’s best relievers, is called upon by Aaron Boone yet again. Gurriel continues his excellent hitting with a single but Diaz grounds into a 5-4-3 double play, ending the threat.

Can Yankees Make A Dent Against Astros Bullpen?

Valdez comes out to start the seventh but he needs a quick inning to make it all the way through. Ask and you shall receive, as he strikes out the side on 11 pitches. His line through seven innings: 101 pitches, 73 strikes, 9 K’s, no BBs, four hits, two unearned runs. Ron Darling on the TBS broadcast says that Valdez had 25 swings and misses tonight, 16 on his curveball.

Maldonado finds his way on to base for the third time with a one out walk. The Yankees turn another double play, this one spectacular, on Altuve’s hardest hit ball in a while. Torres picks it, throwing low to Oswald Peraza, who digs it out. Rizzo digs out Peraza’s low throw, ending the inning. Loaisaga continues to his excellent relief work for New York.

Bryan Abreu walks Harrison Bader in front of Aaron Judge. Tucker robs Judge of a double, leaping at the wall. Bader tags up and makes it to second just before the throw. Abreu then strikes out Stanton looking on a 99 MPH four seam fastball, following up another 99 MPH fastball he swung at and missed. Loaisaga end his two innings of stellar work by getting Pena to ground out to Donaldson. Wandy Peralta now faces Alvarez. Alvarez breaks his 0-12 with a single. Alvarez is then picked off an tremendous throw to first by Peralta. The pick off of Alvarez, who wandered a step too far off first, proves to be huge as Bregman singles. Kyle Hagashioka and Rizzo collide on a pop up, but Hagashioka holds on for the out.

Kyle Tucker robbed Aaron Judge of at least a double, as the Yankees archnemesis, Houston held on to win 3-2. The loss puts New York in an 0-2 hole

Yankees Continue To Have Issues Making Contact

Ryan Pressly closed out New York for a second straight night, though he was not as good as he was in game one. He worked around a two out walk to Donaldson. Matt Carpenter pinch hit for Hagashioka, and Pressly struck him out on a check swing on a curve in the dirt. Pressly struck out Rizzo and Torres swinging as well. New York is striking out almost four times as much as Houston, 30-8, through the first two games. Their .147 team average, 9-61, through the first two games must turn around soon or this could be a very short series.

The best news for the Yankees is that their ace, Gerrit Cole, starts Saturday. Cole must pitch the way he did in game four of the ALDS against the Cleveland Guardians. New York was fortunate to even push across the two runs they did tonight. Valdez’s error led to both runs. The Astros still have not decided between Lance McCullers or Luis Garcia. Whoever Dusty Baker names has the opportunity to force New York into an 0-3 hole, which famously only one team, the Boston Red Sox, in MLB history has come back from.

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