You want this Yankees-Astros American League Championship Series to begin right this very minute. You are invested. You are nervous. You have your lucky shirt on, and you’ve eaten your lucky sandwich once for luck and twice for practice.
As Tom Petty said of postseason baseball, “The waiting is the hardest part.” He might have had something else in mind, but it fits. Anyway, that’s where we here at MLB.com come in. We can see down hallways and around corners.
The Yankees and Astros delivered a mini-classic ALCS two years ago. That one went the full seven games, and Houston won it. We have no reason to think this one will be anything less.
Game 1: Judge goes deep twice, Yankees land first punch
Judge hits one of his two long balls so far over the Minute Maid Park railroad track that the guy with the train whistle mistakenly rings it for a visiting team home run. Impressed Astros fans stand and cheer. Houston starter Zack Greinke gives up the two Judge homers and nothing else in six solid innings. (Judge entered the game with three strikeouts in three career at-bats against Greinke.) But Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka is better, and when it becomes a bullpen game in the seventh, the Yanks take control. Yankees 4, Astros 2 (Yankees lead series 1-0)
Game 2: Verlander gets back on track, Gurriel breaks it open
Back on his normal five-day routine, with wife Kate Upton and boyhood hero Nolan Ryan both cheering him on, Justin Verlander is at his "Raging Bull" best, with a fastball touching 97 mph and a slider that twice shatters Giancarlo Stanton's bat. Verlander allows a Gary Sánchez home run and nothing else in seven innings. The Astros piece together a fifth-inning rally that includes a bases-loaded double by Yuli Gurriel, and a shaky bullpen finishes up. Astros 5, Yankees 3 (Series tied 1-1)
Game 3: Cole leaps tall buildings, too
Afterwards, Gerrit Cole will say it was the best experience of his Major League career, that he fed off the energy of a roaring crowd at Yankee Stadium. That as he walked off the mound in the eighth inning, he took a moment to soak it all in and remind himself why he loves this game so much. As for the Yankees, they get an up-close-and-personal look at the Majors' best pitcher during 7 1/3 innings of 12-strikeout baseball. José Altuve drives in three runs. Astros 6, Yankees 0 (Astros lead series 2-1)
Game 4: Yankees use seven relievers, world does not end
If the Yankees are doing it, then it must be a thing. The Yanks begin the game with reliever Chad Green getting five outs. After that, six more Yankees relievers do their job as Astros rookie starter Jose Urquidy finds the strike zone elusive in his first Yankee Stadium experience. DJ LeMahieu collects two doubles and a single. Yankees 7, Astros 1 (Series tied 2-2)
Game 5: Greinke can’t get in a New York state of mind
Greinke walks to the mound with a 9.64 ERA in six previous appearances at Yankee Stadium. What’s that someone said about there being a broken heart for every light on Broadway? Was that Tom Petty, too? Or Buck Owens? Greinke lasts 2 2/3 innings, and the Yankees get a pair of home runs from Gleyber Torres and one from Edwin Encarnacion as the Yanks move to the threshold of a dream. Yankees 8, Astros 3 (Yankees lead series 3-2)
Game 6: Haven’t we seen this Verlander movie before?
Sequels are all the rage these days. Verlander, just as he did in 2017, takes control of an elimination game from the moment he walks into the clubhouse with his headphones and scowl in place. Alex Bregman homers off James Paxton in the fourth inning, and Carlos Correa adds one in the seventh. Verlander strikes out 11, throws 114 pitches and does not allow a runner to reach scoring position after the third. When Astros manager AJ Hinch goes to check on Verlander after the eighth inning, he stops at the sunflower seed container, grabs a bag and goes back to his seat. Astros 4, Yankees 0 (Series tied 3-3)
Game 7: Cole will never pay for another meal in this town again
He thrives on the big stage with the lights hot and the pressure cranked up. So what if he has an entire city’s hopes riding on his shoulders? Jump on. Cole's third pitch of the game touches 99 mph and his 117th checks in at 101. In between, Altuve homers and Michael Brantley doubles in two runs. The Astros finish the evening by celebrating their second trip to the World Series in three years. Astros 6, Yankees 1 (Astros win series 4-3)