Astros hope off day, return to Houston gets them back on track

HOUSTON – The Houston Astros once led their American League Championship Series with the Yankees 2-0.

But they return home for Friday’s Game 6 facing elimination, trailing 3-2 after dropping three straight contests at Yankee Stadium.

They are hopeful the off day in between games will serve them well, just as it did for the Yankees earlier this series.

"I think the script between Game 2 and 3 should play perfectly between Game 5 and 6,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Thursday.

"We got our day off when we were rolling pretty good. Maybe we'll return the favors to them, giving them a nice little break. They can enjoy some of Houston's finest restaurants tonight, come tomorrow, and hopefully we've switched the momentum,” Hinch said.

Usually, momentum takes you as far as the next day’s starting pitcher, and in the Astros case that’s Justin Verlander, who earned the victory in Game 2 and tossed a complete-game masterpiece.

"Obviously, I know this is one of the main reasons I was brought here. I think so far I've done what they've asked or what they've needed of me to help the rotation and help get deep in the playoffs,” Verlander said. "This is obviously the biggest game for the Astros up to this point for this season. The expectations are there. My teammates, I'm sure, are expecting a lot of me. And I expect a lot of myself. So this is why we play the game. And I love these opportunities to pitch in these atmospheres, these type of games. It should be a lot of fun.”

It will be a lot more fun, quite obviously, if the Astros can put some runs on the board for Verlander after scoring only nine runs thus far in the first five games of the series.

“When the guy in front of you is struggling, you want to be the guy. If you struggle, the guy behind you wants to help,” Hinch said about the offensive struggles. "If you look at our lineup, the Yankees have done a good job of neutralizing our lineup. It's the toughest three-game stretch we've had. But it's a three-game stretch that can end tomorrow. We've got an incredible offense. We've got an incredible opportunity. We're going to play in front of our home crowd. We feel good about it."

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