The American League Championship Series has a new leader as it shifts sites for Game 6.After claiming all three games on their home turf to remain unbeaten in the Bronx this postseason, the Yankees now hold a 3-2 advantage over the Astros in this best-of-seven ALCS presented by Camping World.
The American League Championship Series has a new leader as it shifts sites for Game 6.
After claiming all three games on their home turf to remain unbeaten in the Bronx this postseason, the Yankees now hold a 3-2 advantage over the Astros in this best-of-seven ALCS presented by Camping World. Momentum is theirs, but Houston hopes to take it right back at Minute Maid Park.
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Like the Yankees, the Astros are undefeated at home this postseason.
The Astros will try to make this the fifth seven-game series in history where the home team won all seven games. The last time it happened was the 2004 NL Championship Series, when the Astros lost to the Cardinals.
"You see, we won the first two, they won the next three, so we want to go home and keep that trend going," Houston catcher Brian McCann said.
Facing elimination in a pivotal Game 6 after jumping out to a 2-0 series lead that was erased by offensive struggles, the Astros will need to get their bats going behind Justin Verlander. The veteran right-hander, who pitched a complete-game gem in Game 2, is set to square off against Yanks right-hander Luis Severino.
"I know it's a huge game. There's no shying away from that fact," Verlander said. "So my game plan is to go out there, and as the cliche goes, give it everything I've got."
Verlander put on a clinic against the Yankees on Saturday, striking out 13 and allowing only one run on five hits to lower his career postseason ERA to 3.18. Upon completion of the 124-pitch performance, his teammates put together a theatrical ninth inning that culminated in a walk-off win.
Verlander was acquired for moments like Game 6, agreeing to a trade to Houston in the final moments before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline.
"I know this is one of the main reasons I was brought here," Verlander said.
Four times in his storied 13-year career, he's pitched in an elimination game. Verlander has won each of the past three.
"It's big to have a guy like that," Astros outfielder George Springer said. "It's a confidence builder, for sure. He isn't an easy guy to face. He seems to live for the big moment. He competes. He's a bulldog out there. He wants to get you out."
Verlander's flame-throwing counterpart had to leave Game 2 after just four innings of one-run ball after he was hit on the left wrist by a comebacker. But Severino, who was thought to be experiencing shoulder discomfort, is feeling healthy and is hungry for a win. He threw a bullpen session on Wednesday without any issues.
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"I have to say that I feel great right now," Severino said.
Severino's Yanks are in a favorable position. Since the LCS expanded to a best-of-seven format in 1985, teams that have broken a 2-2 tie to go up 3-2 have won the series 13 of 16 times to move on to the Fall Classic.
Should they do so, the Yankees would be just the fifth team to win four consecutive games in a best-of-seven postseason series after falling into a 2-0 hole. The franchise already has accomplished the feat twice, with the 1978 and '96 Yanks joining the '81 Dodgers and '85 Cardinals on a short list.
"We don't want to get ahead of ourselves," Yankees slugger Aaron Judge said. "We've still got a job to do in Houston. We're going to keep taking it one pitch at a time, and we'll be where we want to be at the end."
Judge and fellow Baby Bomber Gary Sanchez came to life at home, teaming up to go 9-for-21 with eight RBIs. Collectively, the Astros had 11 hits in those three games.
"These kids have played extremely well, and been extremely important in our run," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
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Hoping to shake off their dry spell with help from Thursday's off-day, the Astros have reason for hope. In all best-of-seven series since 1985, including both the LCS and World Series, teams trailing 3-2 but playing the final two games at home have come back to win the series 13 of 27 times, including eight of 17 times after dropping Game 5 to go down 3-2.
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"It's the toughest three-game stretch we've had. But it's a three-game stretch that can end [tonight]," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We need to win one game to get to the next game. And we feel good about it."
Jane Lee has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2010.