Carlos Correa hit a walk-off home run in the 11th inning as the Astros beat the Yankees in ALCS Game 2 to even the series. Aaron Judge homered for the Yankees’ only runs, while the Bombers needed 7 2/3 innings from their bullpen after James Paxton struggled. (Box Score)
To the recap!
Battle of the Bullpens
After seven innings, both starters were out of the game and each side had two runs. Though the Yankees had already gotten 4 2/3 innings from the pen, the game was even as Houston has nowhere near as deep a bullpen.
Will Harris relieved Verlander and got two outs before walking Judge. With one out in the eighth inning, AJ Hinch didn’t hesitate to go to closer Roberto Osuna. Osuna has owned the Yankees in his career. This was no different. The right-hander sat five straight Bombers down in order to get through the ninth.
Meanwhile, Zack Britton pitched for the second straight day to lead off the eighth and pitched around a walk to Alex Bregman for a scoreless inning. Struck out Yordan Alvarez on a wicked slider.
On came Aroldis Chapman. Aaron Boone became the second manager in three years to go to Chapman, his closer, in a tie game in ALCS Game 2. This time, Chapman wouldn’t surrender the walk-off homer. He struck out three around a walk.
However, Houston pushed Chapman to 25 pitches despite a sharp slider and 100-mph velocity, limiting him to one inning. After Jose Smith sat the Yankees down 1-2-3 in the 10th, Boone went to CC Sabathia to get out Michael Brantley and he did the thing as the LOOGY, inducing a weak grounder.
Behind him was Jonathan Loaisiga, who walked two before J.A. Happ cleaned up his mess by retiring Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel.
The Yankees threatened in the 11th with a walk from Edwin Encarnación and a single by Brett Gardner, but Gary Sánchez struck out to end the threat. He looked lost, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.
In the bottom of the 11th, Carlos Correa needed one pitch to finish the job, lifting the walk-off homer to right field off Happ.
The Yankees have lost their last four postseason extra-inning games and haven’t won an extra-inning road playoff game since 2004 ALDS Game 4.
Only Judge gets to Verlander
Justin Verlander brought it for the first time through the order. After a dud on short rest in the ALDS, he was his sharp self and had the aggressive Yankees off-balance for three innings, setting the Bombers down in order. Established high with the fastball, got swings and misses with breaking and offspeed stuff down with little resistance.
That changed in the fourth inning. DJ LeMahieu earned a walk on six pitches and brought up Aaron Judge. For the second time this season, Judge took Verlander out to right field in Houston.
Verlander’s slider hung up for Judge, who was more than willing to take it the other way. It was his first significant mistake.
The second and third time through the order, the Yankees worked JV. Gleyber Torres had a seven-pitch AB and Didi Gregorius took him to a ninth pitch after a Cameron Maybin single.
Still, Verlander held them at two going into the sixth. He hung another pitch for LeMahieu, who singled, and then Judge drove one to right. It looked gone in previous months, but it died at the warning track for a flyout.
The Yankees strung together hits and kept pressure on Verlander. Torres singled and with two outs, Gardner hit a hard ball at Jose Altuve. The ball ricocheted off the second baseman and LeMahieu was sent home to try and score.
However, Carlos Correa was heads up, scampered to the ball and fired a strike home to get DJLM. Some take issue with the send, but putting the pressure on the defense often works there (Remember 2017 ALCS Game 2?). Just didn’t this time.
Verlander retired two hitters in the seventh before walking Maybin. Overall, he went 6 2/3 innings, allowing just four hits and walking one. His only runs came on the homer, but the Bombers hit him well with a couple balls to the wall and liners at fielders.
Paxton Falls Flat
For the first time this postseason, one of the Yankees’ starters had a significant off-night. James Paxton didn’t have it in ALCS Game 2 and the Astros were all over him.
Paxton wasn’t sharp as he missed with both his fastball and curveball early in the game. He staved off doom in the first inning with a double play after a leadoff walk, but the second inning would give him more trouble.
Bregman led off with a 106.7 mph single and Paxton quickly walked Alvarez with misplaced fastballs. Two batters later, Correa lined a double down the left field line to produce a run.
The left-hander got out of the jam with two strikeouts, but he was lifted after back-to-back one-out singles in the third inning.
There was plenty of talk that he was tipping pitches as he did in Houston in April, but I haven’t seen anything conclusive yet. Whether or not he was, he wasn’t commanding his pitches and paid the price, which forced Aaron Boone’s hand.
Bullpenning after Paxton
With Paxton getting just seven outs, Boone trusted his bullpen to match Verlander and the Astros inning-for-inning. First up, Chad Green.
Green was masterful. He got Bregman to line out before retiring Alvarez on a harmless pop up. He cruised through four batters before getting lifted after retiring the No. 9 batter, leaving with a lead after the Judge homer.
But Ottavino couldn’t hold the advantage. He hung a slider on his first pitch to George Springer and it was blasted out to left-center field. It was just his second homer allowed since July. He struck out Brantley and Bregman around an Altuve single, but the Brantley single snuck past Gary Sanchez to allow a batter to reach.
Tommy Kahnle relieved Ottavino for Alvarez and struck him out on a changeup. In a hectic sixth inning, he got all three batters out, but the first two smoked balls. It appeared Correa had put Houston ahead, but his ball died in the left-center field warning track.
But Kahnle was masterful in the seventh with a K and two weak outs. He recorded seven outs for just the third time in his career and first time since the 2017 Wild Card Game. Props to Tommy Tightpants.
- The Yankees’ last postseason victory in extra innings was the Raúl Ibañez game in 2012.
- Encarnación is in a mini-slump. He is 0-for-14 with two walks since the third inning of ALDS Game 2. However, he drew a walk in his final appearance of the night.
- Judge, Maybin and LeMahieu each had a walk and hit. Gardner had two singles, Torres had one. Aaron Judge had the Yankees’ only extra-base hit.
- Aaron Hicks pinch-hit to lead off the 10th and grounded out before taking over in center. Gardner shifted over to left.
- Man, Kyle Tucker looked bad at the plate. Luckily for him, the Astros’ big guns did the work. The top four in the order + Correa to be exact.
Monday is a day off in the series and the teams will play ALCS Game 3 on Tuesday at 4:08 p.m. It’ll be Luis Severino against Gerrit Cole in a matchup of flamethrowers.