The American League Championship Series involves the New York Yankees and Houston Astros for the third time in the last six seasons. With Houston looking for their third ALCS win over New York, Justin Verlander dealt in Game One with home runs from Yuli Gurriel, Chas McCormick, and Jeremy Pena as the Astros held off the Yankees 4-2.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The first run of the ALCS came courtesy of a Harrison Bader solo home run to put the Yankees up 1-0 early on the road. The Astros refused to stay down, however, when Maldonado hit a double to the home bullpen to score Chas McCormick and tie the game for Houston.
Defenses would prevail until the sixth, when Yuli Gurriel broke the tie with a solo home run of his own, this time to the Crawford Boxes to make it 2-1 Astros. That home run would be followed by an opposite-field home run by McCormick to make it 3-1 Houston in the sixth.
Justin Verlander, at 39 years old, was pulled after six complete innings of dominant baseball, striking out 11 and retiring his last 11 straight. His only flaw was the solo homer he gave up to Bader in the second inning, this was one of the best postseason performances of Verlander’s entire career. His 11 strikeouts also made him the all-time postseason strikeout leader with 219 punchouts.
Jeremy Pena, the rookie shortstop, took one for a ride in the seventh to push the Astros lead to 4-1 in a momentous Game 1 for this Houston squad.
Anthony Rizzo cut into the Houston lead, joining the home run party with a solo shot to right center to make it 4-2 in the eighth.
Ryan Pressley came in for a four-out save with three strikeouts as the Astros take down the Yankees 4-2.
BIG NUMBER: 11
Verlander struck out 11 Yankees in Game 1 tonight, redeeming himself for the poor performance in Game 1 of the Division Series.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Justin Verlander
Verlander threw six dazzling innings, striking out 11 while only allowing one run.
UP NEXT: Houston will return to the Juice Box tomorrow to face the Yankees yet again in Game Two of the ALCS. The first pitch is set for 6:37 p.m.