A look at the best-of-seven American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and Houston Astros:
Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Saturday, at Houston, 8:08 p.m.; Game 2, Sunday, at Houston, 8:08 p.m.; Game 3, Tuesday, at New York, 4:08 p.m; Game 4, Wednesday, at New York, 8:08 p.m.: x-Game 5, Thursday, at New York, 8:08 p.m; x-Game 6, Saturday, Oct. 19, at Houston, 4:08 p.m. or TBA; x-Game 7, Sunday, Oct. 20, at Houston, 7:38 p.m. (All games on Fox or FS1).
Season Series: Astros won 4-3.
Yankees: 1B DJ LeMahieu (.327, 26 HRs, 102 RBIs), RF Aaron Judge (.272, 27, 55 in 102 games), CF Brett Gardner (.251, 28, 74), DH Edwin Encarnacion (.244, 34, 86 in 109 games for Mariners and Yankees), LF Giancarlo Stanton (.288, 3, 13 in 18 games), 2B Gleyber Torres (.278, 38, 90), C Gary Sanchez (.232, 34, 77 in 106 games), SS Didi Gregorius (.238, 16, 61 in 82 games), 3B Gio Urshela (.314, 21, 74 in 132 games).
Astros: CF George Springer (.292, 39, 96), LF Michael Brantley (.311, 22, 90, 40 2Bs), 2B Jose Altuve (.298, 31, 74), 3B Alex Bregman (.296, 41, 112, 37 2Bs, 119 BBs, 122 runs), DH Yordan Alvarez (.313, 27, 78 in 87 games), 1B Yuli Gurriel (.298, 31, 104, 40 2Bs), SS Carlos Correa (.279, 21, 59 in 75 games), RF Josh Reddick (.275, 14, 56), C Robinson Chirinos (.238, 17, 58).
Yankees: RH Masahiro Tanaka (11-9, 4.45 ERA), LH James Paxton (15-6, 3.82), RH Luis Severino (1-1, 1.50, 17 Ks, 12 IP in 3 starts), LH J.A. Happ (12-8, 4.91 in 30 starts and 1 relief appearance) or RH Chad Green (4-4, 4.17, 98 Ks in 69 innings overall; 0-1, 3.72, 32 Ks in 19 1/3 IP as opener).
Astros: RH Zack Greinke (18-5, 2.93 with Arizona and Houston), RH Justin Verlander (21-6, 2.58, career-high 300 Ks, led majors with 223 IP), RH Gerrit Cole (20-5, AL-best 2.50, MLB-leading 326 Ks), RH Jose Urquidy (2-1, 3.95) or LH Wade Miley (14-6, 3.98).
Yankees: LH Aroldis Chapman (3-2, 2.21 ERA, 37/42 saves, .182 BA against, 85 Ks in 57 IP), LH Zack Britton (3-1, 1.91, 3 saves, .179 BA against), RH Adam Ottavino (6-5, 1.90, 2 saves, .195 BA against, 88 Ks in 66 1/3 IP), RH Tommy Kahnle (3-2, 3.67, .199 BA against, 88 Ks in 61 1/3 IP), RH Chad Green (4-4, 4.17, 98 Ks in 69 IP), RH Jonathan Loaisiga (2-2, 4.55), LH J.A. Happ (12-8, 4.91 in 30 starts and 1 relief appearance), LH CC Sabathia (4-8, 4.95 in 22 starts and 1 relief appearance), LH Tyler Lyons (1-2, 6.39, 17 Ks, 12 2/3 IP in 14 games with Pirates and Yankees), RH Luis Cessa (2-1, 4.11).
Astros: RH Roberto Osuna (4-3, 2.63, 38/44 saves), RH Ryan Pressly (2-3, 2.32), RH Will Harris (4-1, 1.50), RH Chris Devenski (2-3, 4.83), RH Josh James (5-1, 4.70), RH Hector Rondon (3-2, 3.71), RH Brad Peacock (7-6, 4.12), RH Joe Smith (1-0, 1.80).
Third postseason meeting between the teams, and this one is a much-anticipated showdown of American League powerhouses. Astros won AL wild-card game at Yankee Stadium in 2015 and seven-game ALCS against New York in 2017. Home team won every game in that series – and six of seven matchups this season. Houston earned home-field advantage for this series by compiling best regular-season record in majors. … Houston posted early three-game sweep of Yankees at Minute Maid Park from April 8-10, hitting Paxton hard in finale. Osuna had two saves in series, and Pressly got win and save. New York took three of four in Bronx from June 20-23, with Chapman saving two games and Britton one. Paxton bounced back with five solid innings in 4-1 win. Verlander beat Happ 9-4 in finale to stop Houston’s seven-game skid. … Yankees were 57-24 at home this season under second-year manager Aaron Boone, while Astros went MLB-best 60-21. New York won twice at home and once in Minnesota for three-game Division Series sweep, giving AL East champs four days to rest up for ALCS. Houston was 3-0 at home during ALDS, outscoring Rays 15-4, but dropped both road games by combined 14-4 and gets only one day off between series. … Verlander went 2-0 with 0.56 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 16 innings vs. Yankees to win 2017 ALCS MVP award. Cole and Greinke were not on that Houston team, which beat New York squad managed by Joe Girardi. … Altuve batted .320 with 2 homers and 4 RBIs. Correa hit .333 with 4 extra-base hits and 3 RBIs, but Bregman and Springer were both held below .170. … Tanaka was 1-1 with 1.38 ERA. Judge had 3 homers, 7 RBIs and 1.065 OPS. He also struck out 11 times in 24 at-bats. Sanchez had a HR and 5 RBIs but batted .192. Gardner hit just .148 with 9 Ks in 27 at-bats. … Altuve batted .387 with 5 homers and 1.347 OPS against Yankees this season. Brantley also hit .387, and Alvarez was 6 for 18 (.333) with 3 HRs and 7 RBIs in four games. Bregman had only one RBI. … LeMahieu batted .429 with 2 HRs, 7 RBIs and 1.385 OPS against Astros this season. Sanchez was 8 for 22 (.364) with 2 HRs, 5 RBIs and 1.091 OPS. Torres hit .208 with 2 homers and 5 RBIs. Tanaka allowed only 3 earned runs in 12 innings. … This is seventh postseason matchup of 100-win teams before World Series. Yankees just won one vs. Twins. … Houston’s 311 wins over past three years under manager AJ Hinch are most in a three-season span since Baltimore’s 318 from 1969-71. … Yankees have reached World Series 40 times, twice as many as any other team, and won 27 titles – closest is St. Louis with 11. But they haven’t made it back since winning most recent crown in 2009. … Astros are playing in third straight ALCS, seeking second World Series championship in three years. … Yankees reserve outfielder Cameron Maybin was a backup on Houston team that won 2017 World Series. … Cole grew up in California rooting for Yankees and was drafted by them in late first round out of high school. He didn’t sign and chose to attend UCLA instead, becoming top overall pick by Pittsburgh in 2011. … Yankees hit 306 homers this season, one fewer than Minnesota for major league record, and well above previous mark of 267 established by New York last year. Yankees had five players with 25 or more HRs, and record 14 in double digits. … Houston pitchers led majors with 1,671 strikeouts and Astros hitters had fewest with 1,166. It was first time in MLB history a team ended season leading in both categories.
Yankees: Despite cavalcade of significant injuries, New York (103-59) finished with its best record since 2009, last time Yankees won World Series. Bronx Bombers took first AL East crown since 2012. … Stanton strained left biceps March 31 in his third game, strained a shoulder and calf during his rehabilitation, returned June 18, then strained posterior cruciate ligament in right knee in sixth game back. He returned Sept. 18 and went 8 for 25 with two homers in nine games. … Judge strained left oblique April 20 and didn’t return until June 21. He did not pull a home run to left field until Aug. 20, starting a stretch in which he hit .288 with 15 homers and 22 RBIs in his last 33 games. … Gregorius tore UCL in right elbow during last year’s Division Series and did not make season debut until June 7. … Sanchez was sidelined from April 10-24 by strained left calf, then strained left groin on stolen base attempt Sept. 12 and did not return until final weekend of season. … CF Aaron Hicks injured flexor near right elbow Aug. 3, causing Gardner to be shifted from left to center, a position he manned from start of season until Hicks returned in mid-May from spring training back injury. Hicks has improved and Yankees were deciding whether to include him and Sabathia (shoulder) on ALCS roster. Both missed Division Series. … Gardner set career highs for home runs and RBIs, as did LeMahieu. … Britton and Ottavino both had control issues at times. Britton walked 32, up from 21 last year and his highest total since 2012. Ottavino, with a huge break on his slider that is sometimes hard to locate, walked a career-high 40. … Chapman had 0.59 ERA from Aug. 3 through end of season, allowing one run in 16 appearances. … New York’s pitching was weakened when reliever Dellin Betances tore Achilles tendon in first appearance back from lat injury that had sidelined him since spring training, and 18-game winner Domingo German was placed on administrative leave under baseball’s domestic violence policy.
Astros: AL West champions led majors with franchise-record 107 wins and became sixth team in MLB history to win 100 in three straight years, first since Yankees from 2002-04. … Astros won AL West for third straight time and captured ninth division title. Houston is making 13th playoff appearance and is in postseason for fourth time in five years. … Astros had two no-hitters this season with Verlander throwing third of his career against Toronto after Aaron Sanchez, Joe Biagini, Harris and Devenski combined for one against Seattle. Houston nearly pitched a third no-hitter when Greinke had one broken up with one out in ninth against Mariners in his last start of season. … Cy Young Award contender Verlander won 20 games for second time in career and first since winning career-high 24 in 2011 with Detroit when he won Cy Young and MVP. He struck out a career-high 300 batters to become 18th pitcher to reach 3,000, and his 223 innings pitched led majors. Fellow ace and Cy Young contender Cole set team record by winning his last 16 regular-season decisions and topped AL with career-best 2.50 ERA. His career-high 326 strikeouts were most in majors and set franchise record that had stood since 1979 when J.R. Richard fanned 313. They were most in majors since Randy Johnson had 334 in 2002 for Arizona and most in AL since Nolan Ryan fanned 341 for Angels in 1977. Cole struck out at least 10 batters in 21 starts, which led majors and set a franchise record. He was fourth pitcher in MLB history to have at least 20 games with 10 or more strikeouts in a season, joining Sandy Koufax, Ryan (twice) and Johnson (four times). Cole became first pitcher to strike out 10 or more in nine straight games and was first to reach 300 Ks without throwing a complete game. … MVP candidate Bregman set career highs for homers and RBIs and was first Astros player to hit 40 homers since Lance Berkman had 45 in 2006. … Rookie of the Year contender Alvarez set team rookie home run record.
– Leading Off. Springer led majors with 12 leadoff homers, tied for second-most in MLB history and one shy of record set by Alfonso Soriano in 2003 with Yankees. Springer is second leadoff batter to hit 39 homers, joining Soriano who did it in 2006. LeMahieu, in first season with Yankees, also offers plenty of punch at top of lineup with 26 homers and 102 RBIs.
– Unhittable. Cole carried his incredibly dominant run right through ALDS, going 2-0 with 0.57 ERA and record 25 strikeouts against 6 hits and 3 walks in 15 2/3 innings. He is 18-0 in last 24 starts and hasn’t lost since May 22. Good timing, too, because the 29-year-old right-hander can become a free agent this fall and could land richest contract ever given to a pitcher. After winning decisive Game 5 against Rays, he won’t start until third game of this series at Yankee Stadium. But that lines him up for potential Game 7 at home – an ominous scenario for New York.
– Little Big Man. The 5-foot-6 Altuve, who topped 6-foot-7 Judge for 2017 AL MVP award, has been a huge thorn in Yankees’ side along with so many other teams. Altuve had 1.281 OPS and 3 home runs in ALDS against Tampa Bay to give him 11 in postseason career, most by a second baseman and tied with Springer for franchise record.
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