Bashed in the Bronx, Astros happy to head home

AP
Houston hit .120 in the three-game wipeout, was outscored 5-19 and outhit 12-25. Just one of the Astros' last 15 batters reached base in Game 5 of the ALCS.
AP
Reuters

New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka reacts after pitching during the fifth inning against the Houston Astros in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 18, 2017.

Dallas Keuchel walked from the mound to the dugout during the top of the fifth inning, a blank look on his face, his glove resting on a hip.

Jose Altuve flung his bat.

Josh Reddick slammed his helmet.

Feeling a bit spaced out, the Houston Astros will be happy to get home after a three-day bashing in the Bronx.

"This is a wild place to play, to say the least," George Springer said after a 0-5 loss on Wednesday night gave the New York Yankees a 3-2 lead in the American League Championship Series. "The fans are into the game and they expect their team to win, and they act as if they'd won 27 world championships."

Houston hit .120 in the three-game wipeout, was outscored 19-5 and outhit 25-12. Just one of the Astros' last 15 batters reached base in Game 5. The series resumes on Friday (Saturday morning China time) at Minute Maid Park.

"Every home team has won this series," Astros manager AJ Hinch pointed out. "So if that trend continues, we'll be in pretty good shape."

Houston's pair of 2-1 wins at the Juice Box last weekend were distant memories after three days unsuccessfully fending off New York's noisy bats and fans. The Astros' Big Apple experience was about the same as the tourist couple in "The Out of Towners".

"New York is no joke," Keuchel said. "Yankee Stadium is a tough place to play and it was rockin' these three games. But it's going to be rockin' on Friday for us."

Keuchel had pitched 13 scoreless innings against the Yankees in postseason play, including seven to win the opener. The bushy bearded ace was 6-2 against New York, never allowing more than three runs.

But those precise pitches were a smidgeon off as Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius had run-scoring hits to chase him after 4 2/3 innings. It was Keuchel's shortest outing since finding his groove in August after struggling in his return from a neck injury.

Alex Bregman's glove was about an inch short of snagging Judge's 94 mph smash down the third-base line, a double that put the Yankees ahead 2-0 in the third.

Sanchez had been 0 for 8 against the lefty with six strikeouts before lining a single to left in the fifth.Gregorius followed with a grounder up the middle that hit the bottom of the glove of a diving Altuve at second and bounced into center.

Seven scoreless innings

While Keuchel struggled, Yankees' starter Masahiro Tanaka struck out eight batters over seven scoreless innings. Over four games, three in the playoffs and his final regular-season start, the Japanese ace has a 0.67 earned-run average, surrendering only two runs and 13 hits over 27 innings with 33 strikeouts in a masterful showing.

Houston led the major leagues with a .282 average and 896 runs during the regular season. But the Astros have just nine runs in the ALCS and are batting .147. Houston is hitting .077 (3 for 39) the first time through the batting order and .148 (4 for 27) with runners in scoring position after going 0 for 8 RISP in Game 5.

Fish rot at the head and it has been no different at the top of the Astros' batting order. Springer is 2 for 18 as the leadoff man and Reddick is 0 for 17 in the No. 2 hole.

Altuve and Carlos Correa have combined for 10 hits. The rest of the Astros are hitting .106 (12 for 113).

Justin Verlander, 8-0 with the Astros after his five-hitter won Game 2, takes the mound on Friday night hoping to save the Astros' season. The 101 regular-season wins and five in the playoffs don't matter now. If the Astros are to win their first title or even reach the World Series for the first time since 2005, they'll have to do their work at home.

At 40 the senior member of the roster, Carlos Beltran, a former Yankee, addressed teammates after the game.

"We cannot feel sorry for ourselves," he recalled saying.

Houston will be playing its first elimination game this year.

"We got to go out there," Correa said, "and focus and play the game we can play and obviously show off why we're one of the best teams in the league."

Brian McCann, another former Yankee, also spoke to the team before the Astros headed home.

"Everything is OK. ... We have the home-field advantage," Altuve said. "They did what they have to do, win their home games. Now it's our turn."

Special Reports
Top