By: James “Jeep” DiCioccio
Last night, the Houston Astros thrashed the Yankees by a score of 7-1 as Justin Verlander continued to dominate New York’s offensive efforts, striking out eight while tossing seven shutout innings. Jose Altuve led the charge for Houston’s offense, collecting 2 hits (one being a home run that snuck over the high left-field wall) and three RBI’s. The Yankees’ dull performance has set up a potential classic as one of these clubs will soon be crowned kings of the American League and punch their tickets to Los Angeles for games one and two of the World Series.
Game seven: what could possibly be better? The Yankees and Astros will battle it out tonight at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Each team has won every game at home over the course of this series. New York is currently 6-0 at home, while Houston is 5-0.
The Yankees’ must not enjoy life away from home, or they just simply leave their offense in the Bronx. In the six road games played, they are hitting a pathetic .188 while only driving in 16 total runs. This could be credited to the outstanding pitching they have faced in those games, specifically in the ALCS. Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel accumulated a full game’s worth of strikeouts, as New York’s offense simply cannot lay off the offspeed pitches that end up being buried in the dirt. But why has this not been correct by the Yankee hitters?
As a fan, you would think that film would be watched and this would be corrected overnight. It’s not that simple. The offense is clearly pressing, trying to do too much during their at-bats. Also, keep in mind that five of their nine starters have never played under the bright lights of October. The Yankees were not expected to even reach the postseason due to the “rebuilding” persona that the front-office hinted towards after the conclusion of the 2016 regular season. Needless to say, the inexperience has shown this series.
Houston has also had their fair share of offensive struggles. Only 16 Astros have safely crossed the plate in the six games of this series. The Yankees’ pitching has held Houston to a .166 batting average, baffling the most productive offense of the regular season. George Springer, Marwin Gonzalez, Josh Reddick, and Carlos Beltran have combined for a goose egg in the RBI column. Josh Reddick is 0-21 with five strikeouts.
Pitching along with home-field advantage has proven to be the greatest attributes for each team. A confident CC Sabathia will take the mound for the Yankees while Charlie Morton opposes him for the Astros, as he attempts to avenge his poor start in game three. If the Yankees can force an early departure of Morton, this could spell the end of the Astros’ season due to the subpar collection of relievers. The bullpens of New York and Houston have been polar-opposites. Houston’s has been miserable, while the Yankees have heavily relied on their relievers for quality innings to secure victories.
Prediction: The Yankees defeat the Astros 7-3. CC Sabathia throws six strong innings and the bullpen continues their postseason success. Judge continues the revival of his bat, collecting two hits while adding another bomb to his postseason collection. Todd Frazier will provide another marquee moment for his newfound team. This could be a home run or another heads-up play similar to the run he scored against Cleveland in the top of the ninth. The Yankees will reach the World Series for the 41st time in franchise history.