Yankees Take ALCS Lead In This Home Field Series

By Rich Mancuso/Sports Editor

NY Yankees slugger, Aaron Judge had an RBI double and scored a run in Wednesday's 5-0 victory over the Houston Astros. (Credit: @Yankees)

NY Yankees slugger, Aaron Judge had an RBI double and scored a run in Wednesday’s 5-0 victory over the Houston Astros. (Credit: @Yankees)

The Yankees won the most home games in the American league and that success has carried into the postseason.

In October, winning at home is what the Yankees have done and it has put them a win away from their first World Series since they won it all in 2009. Chances are the Yankees could return to the Bronx next week and host three more games as the AL wild card team in the World Series.

And why not, as this appears to be a season of destiny for the Yankees with a 6-0 record in the Bronx this postseason. After sweeping three games over the Houston Astros in the ALCS at home, and with their 5-0 win Wednesday evening, who is to say this team will ever lose another game in the Bronx.

What matters now, which is more important, the Yankees need one more win and do it Friday night in Houston. They do that and it’s a trip to the World Series, though realizing the Astros are also a very good home team at Minute Maid Park and will have their fans rocking at their ballpark.

Recall, the first two games of this ALCS went to the Astros at Minute Maid Park. The scores were identical, 2-1, and Game 2 was won by the Astros on a walk-off hit from Carlos Correa that scored Jose Altuve with the winning run.

So, home field in this series has become a theme and important to both teams. The Astros boarded their plane and headed home after being swept in the Bronx, and they know what awaits them Friday night.

“A day off slows things down,” said George Springer. “Any day off will help anybody. We just have to capitalize on some mistakes. Home in front of our fans will be huge for us. We understand what has to happen. Go out there and compete.”

The Yankees in the Bronx outscored Houston 19-5. The last three games, Altuve and Correa were a combined 2-for-22 and production like that from the three hole and cleanup spot in the lineup will not win ballgames. Those two had a major impact in leading the Astros to the AL Central title and helped put runs on the board for the best run producing team in the league.

“We have to find a way to score runs,” Correa said.  We have to show it next time.”

Masahiro Tanaka assured the Astros they would not get a win in the Bronx. His 0.90 ERA in the 2017 postseason is the second lowest ERA in a single postseason in Yankees history and has thrown 22.0 straight scoreless innings at Yankee Stadium.

But what made matters worse for the Astros, they didn’t get the pitching in the Bronx. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are two key components of the Yankees lineup that were a catalyst of their success of scoring runs that were second in the league.

Judge and Sanchez in these last three games, 7-for-20, three home runs and seven doubles. Wednesday evening it was Judge, Sanchez, Greg Bird, and Didi Gregorius that contributed with run scoring hits and they did it off Dallas Keuchel, the Houston lefthander who had thrown 13-scoreless innings in two postseason starts against New York.

And with Keuchel, their best,  not giving his team a game advantage as they head home the momentum has continued to gain for the Yankees. Another sellout crowd of 49,647 had the Stadium and the Bronx rocking, and the Astros are looking for that same reaction as they have home field in the last two games of this ALCS.

“It will be great,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said about heading home. “There weren’t a lot rooting for us here. I think getting home will be good for us. We’ll have an off day tomorrow, and get to play in front of our home crowd. Every home team has won this series. If that trend continues, we’ll be in pretty good shape.”

But the Astros have to pitch and hit to be in good shape, and the Yankees have capitalized to where everything has gone to perfection.

“These type of series you don’t know where the runs will come from,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. The Yankees know their mission is to score more runs in Game 6, but Justin Verlander could prevent the momentum from continuing as he tries to extend the season for Houston.

But these Yankees only know one thing, home field or no, they have the one game advantage and plan to close it out Friday night.

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