The Yankees return home for the third game of the American League Championship Series down 0-2.
Let the doubt seep in, let it settle. Through two games the Yankees bats are completely over matched by Houston’s pitching.
A tip of the hat to aces Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander who both secured their team Game 1 and 2 victories.
Keuchel went 7 full innings, no earned runs, 4 hits and 10 strikeouts.
Verlander pitched a complete game, 1 earned run, and 13 strikeouts.
The postseason story line the past few years has been notorious for the short leashes starting pitchers typically get. Regularly managers have pulled their pitchers at the first sign of trouble regardless of their role in the rotation, and the game would fall into the hands of the bullpens. Houston Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch unleashed his two aces.
The Yankees struggles are evident they are not putting enough balls in play. They have played two games and have struck out 27 times. They are hitting an abysmal .159 through two games and have scored as many runs as games played this series.
There is a catch though. For as poorly as the Yankees have batted so far, and as dominant as the Astros’ pitching has been; the Astros have seen their lineup handled by the Yankees’ pitching as well. Keeping this games as close as it could be.
The Yankees’ pitching staff may not have matched Houston’s pitching dominance; but they have had their share of strong pitching and performing well in tight scenarios giving their team a chance to win. They have only allowed two runs each game.
With the exceptions of the likely MVP Jose Altuve, All-Star Carlos Correa, and First baseman Yuli Gurriel; the rest of the Astros lineup has been neutralized so far. The previously named players have 10 hits altogether, third Baseman Alex Bregman is the only other player to have a hit.
The Astros are hitting an unflattering .190 as well.
There is one glimmer of hope for the Yankees returning home. They have yet to lose a postseason game in the Bronx this year. On the road, the Yankees have only one victory away from Yankee Stadium, their Game Five American League Divisional Series clinching victory.
The Yankees will return to the Bronx and the stadium will be jumping. They are playing with house money, they were not expected to make the playoffs at the beginning of the year, with most people suggesting they were still a full year away from being a playoff team again, let alone a contender. They were not expected to beat the Indians, and they did it from the same situation they find themselves in now down 0-2, albeit in a best of five series.
The series to this point has consisted of many high-pressured situations, two tightly played baseball games. Only one or two moments in each game have been the difference makers. This is what postseason baseball is all about.
The only way the Yankees will be able to scrap their way back into this series though will be if they can decrease their number of strikeouts and put more balls in play to make things happen.