NEW YORK -- After two thrillers in Houston, the Astros and Yankees will square off tonight in the Bronx as the Astros hope to do what 25 teams have done before them -- parlay a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven League Championship Series into a pennant winner.• ALCS Game 3:
NEW YORK -- After two thrillers in Houston, the Astros and Yankees will square off tonight in the Bronx as the Astros hope to do what 25 teams have done before them -- parlay a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven League Championship Series into a pennant winner.
• ALCS Game 3: Tonight, 8 ET/7 CT on FS1
Game 3 of the American League Championship Series presented by Camping World is set for tonight at 8 ET on FS1 at Yankee Stadium, with Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) set to oppose Carsten Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).
:: ALCS schedule and coverage ::
The Astros, who have beaten the Yankees in Games 1 and 2 by identical scores of 2-1, are the 29th team in LCS history to take a 2-0 lead since the advent of the best-of-seven format in 1985. All but three of the prior 28 teams have won the series.
Additionally, teams that have gone up 2-0 at home, like Houston did, have gone on to win the series 13 of 16 times. That gives the Astros a few things in their favor, so far, this October: a dynamic, young offense; near-perfect pitching; and favorable odds that they'll continue to build on this momentum and reach the World Series presented by YouTube TV.
"It feels great," Astros second baseman Jose Altuve said, soon after he scored the winning run on Carlos Correa's dramatic walk-off double in Game 2 on Saturday. "This team is so very humble about every win we get. I'm not going to lie to you, we feel really happy right now, and we feel we have some momentum going."
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The Yankees, however, have been in this situation before. In the AL Division Series presented by Doosan, they lost the first two games to the Indians and had less wiggle room than they do now -- in that series, they had to win three straight in order to advance.
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"I think it should give our players confidence going into this," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We were down, 2-0, to a team that won [22 consecutive] games and were able to come back. So just go out and do whatever it takes to win a game [Monday] and see where you're at."
Of course, no franchise is more familiar with 0-2 comebacks than the Yankees. In the history of seven-game series, there have been 13 comebacks from an 0-2 deficit, and the Yankees have been involved in seven of them, winning four times. The most recent Yankees comeback from an 0-2 deficit came in the 1996 World Series, when they lost the first two games against the Braves before storming back to win the next four. The current team has often been compared to that '96 club, which should provide some inspiration for the current group.
Game 3 of the ALCS won't bring such dire circumstances, but a loss would further decrease the Yanks' likelihood that they'll advance to the Fall Classic.
The Yankees trail 0-2 in the ALCS for the third time. They were in the same situation in 1980 against the Royals, and in 2012 against the Tigers, and were swept in both series.
Additionally, the Yankees' comeback against Cleveland last week is bringing New York some comfort as the team prepares for what it hopes is three games in the Bronx.
"The beautiful thing about baseball is we have another one," Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge said. "We just have to continue to play our game. We've faced some tough pitchers and some games, but this is a team that battles. We don't give up, so we're going to keep fighting."
Morton received a no-decision in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Red Sox, his first start of this postseason. The righty allowed two runs and struck out six over 4 1/3 innings, but with Houston eyeing a clinch, manager A.J. Hinch pulled Morton for Justin Verlander in the fifth. Verlander earned the win.
Morton said he was excited for the atmosphere at Yankee Stadium. As a kid growing up in Connecticut, Morton regularly attended games at the old stadium.
"I grew up a Yankee fan, as a guy who grew up in the tri-state area, listening to sports radio," Morton said. "So whenever I got a chance to come in the city, just to come into the city is special, and then to go see a ballgame, that was awesome for me, because I was a huge baseball fan. I never got a chance to play there. But to be here and on this stage is incredible for me. It's special."
For the second time in less than a week, the Yankees will turn to Sabathia in a key spot. Sabathia started the winner-take-all Game 5 of the ALDS against Cleveland, striking out nine over 4 1/3 innings and leaving with a lead in a game that propelled New York to the ALCS.
"We're going to fight 'til the end," Sabathia said. "This is a good team we're playing, but I feel like we've been right there in both games. Getting beat [2-1] and 2-1, we're right there. A couple things go our way, we could easily be up, 2-0."
This ALCS was billed as a battle between AL Most Valuable Player Award candidates, but it's been one-sided thus far. Altuve has gone 5-for-8 for Houston, scoring half of his team's runs over the two victories. Judge, meanwhile, has one hit in seven at-bats with three strikeouts.
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"There have been a lot of great hitters that have struggled in their first year in the postseason," Girardi said. "Part of it is the guys they're going against; they've made a lot of good pitches. Part of it is, you can get a little off sometimes. When I look at Aaron's at-bats, I don't think he hasn't continued to be patient."
Houston has five wins in the 2017 postseason, two short of the franchise record of seven set in 2005. The Astros won the pennant that year in six games. They could shave two off that total this year, with a sweep over the Yanks possible.
"These are such tough series," Hinch said. "I mean, I can't tell you enough from pitch one to the end of the game, both sides are really, really emphasizing staying in the game and just continuing to fight, because it can shift in a heartbeat. Just when you feel good about where you're at, it can shift back to momentum the other way. So it's postseason baseball at its best."
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.