HOUSTON -- The Astros' bats woke up just in time, coming to life in a three-run fifth inning sparked by Brian McCann and Jose Altuve in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Friday evening.Their doings helped Houston overcome what was turning into a worrisome offensive drought at
HOUSTON -- The Astros' bats woke up just in time, coming to life in a three-run fifth inning sparked by Brian McCann and Jose Altuve in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Friday evening.
Their doings helped Houston overcome what was turning into a worrisome offensive drought at the worst of times, backing Justin Verlander's seven-inning gem in a 7-1 victory over the Yankees to force a Game 7 in this ALCS presented by Camping World.
McCann broke out of an 0-for-20 slump with an RBI ground-rule double that ignited the fifth-inning rally, and Altuve capped it with a two-run single, chasing Yanks starter Luis Severino out of the game in a deafening Minute Maid Park.
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Altuve also homered in the eighth inning with a leadoff shot that jump-started a four-run frame.
"It was an incredible game," McCann said. "Verlander pitched another incredible baseball game, and Altuve carried us. That's kind of been the recipe for our success. Altuve is the MVP of the season, he's the MVP of this team. He just gets big hit after big hit after big hit."
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Severino, who carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning, walked two of his first three batters in the fifth, the Astros hoping to tire him out. That's when McCann stepped to the plate and jumped on a 2-2, 97-mph fastball for his first hit since Game 2 of the AL Division Series against Boston on Oct. 6.
"Obviously we've been waiting for the big hit for a couple of games," said Houston manager A.J. Hinch, whose club was outscored by 14 runs (19-5) in Games 3-5. "And no better time than for McCann to have a really good at-bat battle, get a pitch he could drive, and then obviously break things open. A good offensive output today, kick-started by him."
Said McCann: "I've been getting pitched tough all series, and I got a pitch out over the plate, and I was able to put a really good swing on it. Needed it. We were just waiting for one big hit. When we were in New York, they pitched about as good as you can pitch, so we hadn't really swung the bats great this series. So it was just good to put some runs on the board the way we did."
Following McCann's double, Severino issued another walk, this one to George Springer, before buckling down to get a popup out of Josh Reddick to bring Altuve to the plate with two outs.
For Altuve, who finished the regular season as the MLB batting champion (.346), it was his first hit since Game 2, putting to rest an 0-for-12 stretch. The single came on a first-pitch slider, upping his average to .459 when he puts the first pitch in play this year, and an animated Altuve couldn't conceal his emotions when reaching first base.
"I'm not a guy that shows a lot of emotion while I'm playing," he said. "But I didn't realize what I was doing. I was just happy ... you let yourself go. And I hope I didn't offend anybody. I was just happy because I was helping my team. And I think it's very understandable because of the situation, and the importance of the game that we are playing.
"As soon we start playing, we forgot about the last three games in New York. And when I did that, what I did, it was just trying to get the team going. And obviously it was a really good night for us."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com.