Yankees Running Out of Time vs. Astros: Live Updates
Oct. 19, 2019, 11:21 p.m. ET
Michael Brantley made a sensational catch-and-throw from left field to end the top of the seventh inning and preserve the Astros' lead. Yankees 2, Astros 4.
The Astros made another excellent defensive play to get out of the top of the seventh, and now the Yankees are down to their final six outs while Minute Maid Park rocks to "Deep In The Heart Of Texas."
Aaron Judge singled to lead off the frame, and then Gleyber Torres popped up to Yuli Gurriel in foul territory. Aaron Hicks followed and worked the count full against Will Harris before he lifted a shallow fly ball to left. Alex Bregman, the third baseman, ran out but it was clear he was not going to get it as Judge charged toward second base. But Michael Brantley, the left fielder, sprinted in and made the scoop catch as he dove forward, just snagged the ball and slid forward on his chest.
He then jumped up and fired a strike on a bounce to Gurriel at first base. Gurriel caught the ball and stepped on the bag ahead of Judge for the final out of the frame. Judge punched the air in frustration and Bregman slapped Brantley's chest in delight at what might end up being the play of the series.
In a bit of good news for Yankees fans, Adam Ottavino had a 1-2-3 inning. He even got George Springer out.
The Astros manufactured another run in the sixth as Jose Altuve scampered home from third on a fielder's choice by Alex Bregman. Yankees Manager Aaron Boone had opted to use Tommy Kahnle in the sixth, and he issued a leadoff walk to Altuve, who went to third on a single by Michael Brantley. Altuve scored when Bregman hit a slow bouncer to short with the infield at double-play depth.
Altuve, one of the best base runners in the sport, broke on contact, and Didi Gregorius had no chance to get him. But Gregorius peeked at Altuve before making the throw to second, and the slight hesitation may have allowed Bregman to reach first safely on a close play. But it did not matter, because Bregman was stranded at third when Kahnle struck out Yordan Alvarez to end the threat.
The Yankees had a great opportunity to even the score in the top of the frame after Gary Sanchez walked and Gio Urshela singled off Jose Urquidy. But with the runners at first and second and only one out, Josh Reddick made a diving catch on Brett Gardner's sinking liner to save the Astros. If Reddick did not snare it and the ball got behind him, at least one Yankee would have scored, maybe two.
With D.J. LeMahieu coming up and runners at first and second and two outs, A.J. Hinch went to Will Harris, one of his top relievers. Harris threw a first-pitch breaking ball to LeMahieu, who bounced it slowly to Carlos Correa at short. Correa scooped it on a tricky bounce and made the off-balance throw to first to end the half-inning, to the delight of the crowd.
Going to Harris was a big move for Hinch. Harris has pitched most often in the seventh and eighth innings this year.
For the first time since the first inning, the Yankees went down in order in the fifth, as Jose Urquidy, the rookie right-hander, finally stabilized things for the Astros. Gleyber Torres bounced out to Alex Bregman at third and then Aaron Hicks and Edwin Encarnacion struck out, the latter for the second time in the game and the 10th time in the series.
Funny thing about Urquidy: Right handers hit .300 off him this year in the regular season, and lefties only .179. A big reason for that is his changeup, which falls away from lefties. Two of the next four Yankee batters are lefties (Didi Gregorius and Brett Gardner).
Cessa pitched out of a tiny bit of trouble in the bottom of the inning after Martin Maldonado reached on a perfect bunt. Cessa got Josh Reddick to hit a harmless fly ball to center and then George Springer ripped a ball down the third base line. But that's where Gio Urshela works, and he scooped it up and started a double play.
Gio Urshela homered off Jose Urquidy to draw the Yankees to within a run, at 3-2. It was his second home run of the A.L.C.S. He also homered in Game 1. Brett Gardner followed with an opposite-field single for a base hit, and Astros Manager A.J. Hinch was getting nervous again. But Urquidy escaped when he got D.J. LeMahieu to pop out to center, and then he struck out Aaron Judge. That's a big moment for Urquidy, a 24-year-old rookie from Mazatlan, Mexico.
Urquidy only pitched in nine games for the Astros this year (seven of them starts) but he could have a big role tonight. Hinch would probably like him to eat up some outs in the middle of this game to save his back-end relievers for later in the game.
Luis Cessa got the bottom of the fourth for the Yankees, and Urshela showed off his good glove (and arm) work, corralling an awkward high bouncer from Yuli Gurriel and then making a terrific off-balance throw across the diamond.
The Astros made only weak contact against Cessa. They don't appear to be handling the parade of relievers as well as the Yankees are.
The Astros also announced that Peacock left the game with right knee discomfort, so perhaps that was the reason he lost his command, instead of fatigue.
Aaron Boone and A.J. Hinch will have to be alert and nimble in this game with all the pitching decisions they will make. One of the keys is not waiting too long to make a change, because some of the relievers they will rely on in this game are not programmed to throw a lot of pitches, or to sit down between innings and come back out again, or to face left and right-handed batters in succession.
But whereas in the later innings you might not think twice about taking out a lefty for a right-handed hitter, you can't burn too many pitchers early in the game. But with the Yankees producing a lot of traffic on the bases, Hinch is feeling the pressure in the Astros' dugout. He might have stayed a little too long with Brad Peacock, and he was practically begging for Josh James to escape a jam in the third. But James could not, as he walked Edwin Encarnacion to load the bases. Hinch went to Pressly, who got Didi Gregorius out on a weak ground ball but appeared to be injured on the play as he limped to the dugout.
The Astros have used three pitchers through three innings so far.
"It's crazy thinking we're in the Game 6 of the A.L.C.S. and we're going to have upwards of double-digit number of pitchers pitching in a game of such magnitude," Hinch said before the game. "Welcome to 2019."
Meanwhile, Happ got through the third without giving up a run, despite George Springer's leadoff walk. Luis Cessa was warming up for the Yankees, and the Astros are turning to Jose Urquidy in the fourth.
The Yankees clawed back a run and chased Brad Peacock out of the game as Gary Sanchez struck a single up the middle with a runner in scoring position, no less.
Peacock recorded five outs, but he started to lose command when his pitch count rose. (Relatively speaking, of course. He only threw 27 total, but he is not a starter.) With two outs, Didi Gregorius doubled to right field. Peacock statistically has greater success against right-handed batters, who only hit .197 against him in the regular season. He clearly began to tire and walked Gio Urshela, so A.J. Hinch made the first of what should be many pitching changes in this game, asking Josh James to face Brett Gardner. James got out of the jam when he caught Gardner looking a dubious strike three call. The pitch looked outside and maybe high.
The Yankees turned to the former Astros lefty J.A. Happ in the bottom of the second, and he had a nice, quiet inning. It was just what the Yankees needed. Martin Maldonado, Houston's catcher, squared up one ball and hit a sharp line drive down the third base line, but Urshela caught it.
This game is going to get more fascinating as it progresses with all the matchups and decisions. James is still in for Houston.
Yuli Gurriel hit a three-run home run off opener Chad Green to give the Astros a 3-0 lead. Green struck out George Springer to start the inning, but he labored after that, giving up a double to Jose Altuve and then one out later he walked Alex Bregman. Gurriel connected on the first pitch - with Altuve breaking for third base - and lined it over the wall in left field as the crowd erupted. The Astros were borrowing from the script the Yankees provided in Game 5, when they scored four runs in the first inning on home runs by D.J. LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks.
For the Astros, Brad Peacock picked up where he left off last night, setting down the Yankees in order on 7 pitches (he needed 8 to get through the 8th inning of Game 5 on Friday). Astros Manager A.J. Hinch said before the game that he liked the idea of using Peacock because of his measured demeanor. Hinch acknowledged that the game could end up being chaotic with all the pitching changes and matchups.
"And who better to kick off the chaos of a bullpen day than a calm Brad Peacock," he said. Chad Green
1. D.J. LeMahieu, 1B
2. Aaron Judge, RF
3. Gleyber Torres, 2B
4. Aaron Hicks, CF
5. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
6. Didi Gregorius, SS
7. Gary Sanchez, C
8. Gio Urshela, 3B
9. Brett Gardner, LF
Chad Green, PASTROS
1. George Springer, CF
2. Jose Altuve, 2B
3. Michael Brantley, LF
4. Alex Bregman, 3B
5. Yuli Gurriel, 1B
6. Carlos Correa, SS
7. Yordan Alvarez, DH
8. Martin Maldonado, C
9. Josh Reddick, RF
Brad Peacock, P
Encarnacion, who is mired in a 1-for-19 slump in his last five games, is back in the lineup as the designated hitter instead of Giancarlo Stanton. Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said the long flight was a factor for Stanton, who is recovering from a quad injury, and added that he thought Encarnacion would do well.
Astros Manager A.J. Hinch said he was opening with Peacock because he felt Peacock matched up well with the top of the Yankees' order. Peacock pitched the eighth inning of Game 5 Friday, and got Gardner, LeMahieu and Judge in order on eight pitches.
Without a day off to rest in between games, the Yankees and Astros traveled from New York to Houston overnight and will suit up again for Game 6 at Minute Maid Park less than 24 hours after the end of Game 5. The Yankees face the prospect of a season-ending loss for the second straight day, but they responded to that pressure well on Friday.
If the Yankees can win Game 6, it will put all the pressure on the Astros, who would be at risk of becoming just the 14th team out of 86 to lose a seven-game series after taking a three-games-to-one lead. Only eight teams in postseason history have lost three games in a row and still won the series. The last to do it was the Astros, in 2017, against the Yankees.
The Yankees played a crisp game on Friday night in Game 5 - rebounding well from the sloppiness of Game 4 - as James Paxton delivered a signature Yankee performance to cool off the Houston bats. The Yankees broke out with four runs against Justin Verlander in the first inning - all on two home runs - and Paxton and the bullpen made it stand up. Aaron Boone even had a good game decision-wise, sticking with Paxton in a critical situation in the sixth instead of switching to the right-hander Tommy Kahnle against right-handed batter Robinson Chirinos. Paxton rewarded Boone's faith by getting the third out on a long fly ball.
Both teams are going to use their bullpens for the entire game on Saturday instead of a traditional starter, meaning there will be a lot of mixing, matching and changes through the night. The Rays used that strategy in Game 4 of their divisional series against Houston, and it really seemed to bother the Astros hitters, some of whom saw four different pitchers in their four at-bats.
The Yankees were 13-7 in regular season games where they used an opener. They started out 11-0 and then went 2-7 in the last nine such games. The Yankees will open with Chad Green. The Astros, who will open with Brad Peacock, said their three "headliners" would be Joe Smith, Will Harris and Roberto Osuna.
One key for the Yankees will be to get their middle-of-the-order sluggers going. Yes, D.J. LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks hit big home runs in Game 4, but Giancarlo Stanton, who came back from a leg injury in Game 5, Gary Sanchez and Edwin Encarnacion (who was benched in Game 5), have not produced much at all. The Yankee batters are also striking out at an alarming rate - even in an era of inflated strikeouts. They have fanned 53 times in the first five games on a wide array of pitches, including low breaking balls and high fastballs.
Oct. 18, 2019, 8:08 p.m. ET Right Now After a rough first inning for both Justin Verlander and James Paxton, the two starters settled in for an efficient second. Yankees 4, Astros 1.
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