Can I make a confession? I really wasn’t expecting much from the Yankees in Game One. I figured Dallas Keuchel would do his usual thing and dominate the Yankees’ lineup and that Houston would score just enough runs to win. Turns out, I was exactly right.
But there was also a little part of me that was very worried about the Houston lineup. I saw what they did to Chris Sale in Game One of the Division Series and I was very concerned for Masahiro Tanaka. Chris Sale will probably finish second in the American League Cy Young vote and they made him look like the worst starter on a bad team. They hit three home runs off him and they scored seven runs in five innings in what turned into an 8-2 Houston win. But I didn’t have to worry, Tanaka held the Astros’ powerful lineup in check and they scored their two runs thanks to a couple of singles in the bottom of the fourth. They weren’t exactly killing the ball.
Overall, Tanaka did a nice job. He only struck out three batters but he kept Houston off the board for five out of the six innings he pitched and he preserved the bullpen for a game. Reliever Chad Green came in to pitch the two innings.
It’s a shame Tanaka’s offense couldn’t do anything to support him but they were held in check all night by Keuchel who struck out 10 and walked one. They just cannot hit him. And it doesn’t matter that the lineup is almost completely different than it was in the 2015 Wild Card game, players who wear road grays or pinstripes simply cannot hit Dallas Keuchel.
Another frustrating but understandable play was when Greg Bird was thrown out at home in the top of the fifth inning. The Yankees needed a run and when you’re up against Keuchel, you need to do whatever you can to get it even if it means sending someone like Bird home on a ball hit to left. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. This time it didn’t. That’s baseball.
Bird would cut the score in half with a solo shot off Houston’s closer Ken Giles with two outs in the ninth but Jacoby Ellsbury, who was pinch-hitting for Matt Holliday, struck out swinging to end the game.
Again, it was expected but still frustrating. Hopefully, Luis Severino will keep the streak of good starts going and the Yankees bats will get to Justin Verlander in Game Two.
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