5 keys to Astros-Yankees ALCS Game 5

Jose Altuve and George Springer of the Astros celebrate after scoring on a Yuli Gurriel 3-run double during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees in Game Four of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 17, 2017. (Getty Images)

HOUSTON – It's now a best-of-3 in the American League Championship Series. What once was an Astros 2-0 series lead is now even at 2-2 after the Yankees have snagged Games 3 and 4 at home.

Game 5 is set for the Bronx at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The Astros offense has continued to struggle after finishing No. 1 during the regular season in average and home runs. During the ALCS, they are a dismal 4-19 with runners in scoring position. The Astros have scored only 9 runs so far in the first four games against the Yankees. The time is now for that to change.

The Astros lineup will get another look at Yankees righthander Masahiro Tanaka who limited Houston to only two hits in 6 innings back in Game 1 of the ALCS. The Astros will counter with lefthander Dallas Keuchel who has simply been a true Yankees killer during the past two years.

Keuchel has dominated in his six career starts against the Yankees, earning four wins, two complete games and a 1.41 ERA. In two playoff games against New York, Keuchel's been even better with 13 scoreless innings and a pair of victories.

Despite their offensive struggles there is no doubt or panic coming from inside the Astros clubhouse. Remember, this is an Astros team that won 101 games in 2017. They know how to get the job done and close out games.

"This team is very mature," Jose Altuve said after the Game 4 loss. "We will overcome this as a team and show up with a positive attitude and play the game."

Keys to an Astros win:

1) Dallas Keuchel simply needs to be Dallas Keuchel. It's all about his pinpoint location. When he's got that down, he is tough to beat. If he's getting a lot of groundball outs then that is going to be a good sign.

2) Astros top of the lineup needs to produce and make Tanaka work at each at bat. It's time for Springer, Reddick, Altuve and Correa to do some damage.

3) Solid defense by the Astros. In any playoff game you need to play clean baseball especially on the road and in a hostile environment like Yankee Stadium.

4) A rebound by the Astros bullpen. Game 4 was rough for the parade of relievers used by manager A.J. Hinch. Ken Giles et al need to be better in Game 5 when Hinch makes the call.

5) An early lead. The Astros don't want to have to play from behind with David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman looming late in the Yankees bullpen, despite the fact that the Astros walked off against Chapman in Game 2. 

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