NEW YORK -- An unlikely comeback has been completed, with the Yankees' Game 4 dramatics giving them two consecutive wins over the Astros in this best-of-seven American League Championship Series to tie it at 2 and set the stage for a crucial Game 5 today at Yankee Stadium.Consider this a
NEW YORK -- An unlikely comeback has been completed, with the Yankees' Game 4 dramatics giving them two consecutive wins over the Astros in this best-of-seven American League Championship Series to tie it at 2 and set the stage for a crucial Game 5 today at Yankee Stadium.
Consider this a brand new series.
"It doesn't surprise me," Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius said. "Guys are playing with a lot of heart here. I think it shows everybody we never give up. That's the way we played all year."
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Wednesday's critical matchup in the Bronx, featuring a rematch between Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel and Yankees righty Masahiro Tanaka, carries with it a significant footnote: Teams that win Game 5 following a 2-2 split are 13-3 since the LCS expanded to seven games in 1985.
The last team to go down 3-2 in the LCS and come back to win was the 2004 Cardinals.
"I think today we got punched in the mouth, and we're going to show up ready to compete," Houston third baseman Alex Bregman said. "They put together a good comeback, and I think [Wednesday] is a brand new day. We're going to come to the field and go through our same routine we've gone through all year and get ready to go."
The Astros arguably hold the advantage because of the man on the mound for Game 5. After hitting the reset button on its rotation, Houston has Keuchel back in action seeking further dominance against a Yankees club that has never been able to figure him out.
The Astros are now 5-0 this postseason in games in which Keuchel and Justin Verlander have pitched (including a relief appearance by Verlander in Game 4 of the AL Division Series), and 0-3 when they don't appear.
Keuchel has bested Tanaka in each of their two postseason meetings, the most recent unfolding Friday in Game 1. The left-hander struck out 10 in seven scoreless innings, limiting the Yanks to four singles and one walk. Tanaka held his own, allowing two runs in six innings in a 2-1 Astros victory at Minute Maid Park.
The duo also squared off in the 2015 AL Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium, which featured six scoreless innings from Keuchel, to Tanaka's five-inning, two-run outing. In the past three seasons, Keuchel has a 0.72 ERA against New York.
"We're not going to hit the panic button because we've lost two games in a row," Astros shortstop Carlos Correa said. "We've got Keuchel going, so we're going to play behind him and hopefully come up with a win."
Either way, both clubs are destined for a Game 6 on Friday in Houston, with Verlander looming. The postseason stalwart, who will be pitted against New York's Luis Severino, delivered a monster 124-pitch, one-run, 13-strikeout complete game in Game 2 on Saturday.
A potential Game 7 would be staged Saturday.
"I thought about it: Oh, man, it's going to be a really uphill battle," Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier said of the task at hand. "But once that gets in your mind, you have to think positive after that. You hear the fans. It's unbelievable. All of a sudden, the pressure's back on the other team. It's the best place to play and the loudest place to play in baseball, no doubt about it."
Taking care of business at home has been a strength of the Yanks. They're 56-30 in the Bronx, including 5-0 this postseason -- a narrative that has prevailed over the Astros' season-long road success. Houston played to a 53-28 road record during the regular season, tied with Cleveland for the best mark.
The Yankees rallied for six unanswered runs in Game 4, sparked by the Baby Bombers. AL MVP Award candidate Aaron Judge homered in the seventh and drilled a game-tying double to the left-field wall in the eighth, and Gary Sanchez delivered the tiebreaking two-run double.
"We have a very mature team, and we're going to overcome this and show up with the best attitude possible and go play the game," Astros second baseman Jose Altuve said.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com.