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Astros turn to McCullers for Game 4 in NY

Right-hander held Yankees to 3 runs over 11 1/3 innings this season
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

NEW YORK -- Confident that he's completely healthy and back to his All-Star form, right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. was tabbed by Astros manager A.J. Hinch to start Tuesday's Game 4 of the American League Championship Series presented by Camping World at Yankee Stadium.

McCullers will be making his second postseason start and first since Game 4 of the 2015 AL Division Series against the Royals. He pitched three innings in relief in Game 3 of this year's ALDS presented by Doosan against the Red Sox in his first career relief appearance, allowing two runs and three hits.

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NEW YORK -- Confident that he's completely healthy and back to his All-Star form, right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. was tabbed by Astros manager A.J. Hinch to start Tuesday's Game 4 of the American League Championship Series presented by Camping World at Yankee Stadium.

McCullers will be making his second postseason start and first since Game 4 of the 2015 AL Division Series against the Royals. He pitched three innings in relief in Game 3 of this year's ALDS presented by Doosan against the Red Sox in his first career relief appearance, allowing two runs and three hits.

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Video: ALCS Gm4: McCullers Jr. on starting Game 4 of ALCS

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The Astros lead the best-of-seven ALCS, 2-1, so McCullers has a chance to get Houston on the cusp of its first AL pennant. 

"It's a big game for us," he said. "It's a big game for the team. The Yankees have a great home record and are a great team. And we did the job putting [ourselves] in the situation getting up 2-0. We knew it was going to be hard-fought innings, hard-fought games. It's a big situation to be able to pitch in, put us within a game of the World Series."

The Astros also will have a rested Brad Peacock available to throw multiple innings, and closer Ken Giles hasn't pitched since Saturday's win over the Yankees in Game 2.

"So we can piece it together," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "But it starts with setting the tone with Lance McCullers. I don't have to remind all you guys, he was an All-Star to start the year. He has some of the best stuff in the big leagues, and we believe in him."

McCullers went 7-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 16 starts in the first half of the season en route to being named to his first All-Star Game. He was 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA in four July starts before going on the disabled list because of back discomfort. He came back in early September and dealt with shoulder fatigue, so he wound up making just three starts in the month.

"I felt like I have been in a whirlwind that second half when I've been out there," McCullers said. "I just feel confident with my pitches and my stuff again, and I'm ready to go out there tomorrow."

Video: ALCS Gm4: McCullers Jr. to face off against Gray

McCullers faced the Yankees twice in the regular season -- on May 12 and June 30 -- and held them to three runs through 11 1/3 innings. He struck out 13 batters and walked just two in those outings.

"It's a different game," he said. "I think the only thing to take away from that is I've already pitched in Yankee Stadium in front of a pretty big crowd. This is New York, this is the biggest and brightest lights. I've already been able to go into that game and come out with success."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

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