What we learned in the Astros game 2 ALCS win
Astros send Gerrit Cole to the mound in game 3
HOUSTON – The Houston Astros knew they would have faced a daunting task of trying to emerge from a two games to none deficit in the ALCS, especially with the series shifting to New York.
To that end, Justin Verlander pitched like the ace that he's been his entire career, the bullpen was nearly flawless and yet another hero emerged when Carlos Correa stepped to the plate to open the bottom of the eleventh and belted the walkoff homer to tie the series at 1-1.
Here's what we learned from the Astros game 2 win.
Verlander is pretty good on regular rest
Justin Verlander pitched on short rest for the first time in his career in game four of the ALDS against Tampa Bay. He gave up three runs in the first inning and couldn't get out of the fourth inning. He pitched Sunday night's game 2 of the ALCS on regular rest. He looked every bit the ace he's been ever since he's put on an Astros uniform. He took the game into the seventh inning and made just one mistake. Unfortunately, Aaron Judge hit that mistake deep over the wall in center field for a two-run homer. Verlander had retired the first nine batters in order before allowing a leadoff walk to D.J. LaMahieu in the fourth inning. Judge homered two pitches later.
Verlander owns the Yankees in the postseason
This was Verlander's seventh career postseason start against the Yankees and other than one game that was postponed by rain - Verlander's team has won them all. In those six win's, Verlander is 4-0 with a 2.23 ERA. Should the series be extended to six games, he'd be the scheduled starter for that contest at Minute Maid Park.
Correa delivers in the postseason
Carlos Correa was already having a strong game before he took the final swing of the night to win the highly intense game. Correa drove in the Astros first run with a scalding line drive down the left field line in the second inning. He then kept the game tied in the top of the sixth inning when Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner smashed a sinking liner to Jose Altuve at second base. The ball bounded off Altuve to his right near second base. LaMahieu, who had been on second base, rounded third and headed for home. Correa scooped up the baseball near second base, turned a fired a strike to catcher Robinson Chirinos at home plate. Chirinos easily tagged out LaMahieu to end the inning. The Minute Maid Park crowd went wild and rightfully so.
The Astros bullpen can be very effective
Verlander took the game into the seventh inning, but was pulled after issuing his second walk of the night. Will Harris needed just four pitches to sit down Didi Gregorius. He'd start the eighth with a strikeout of LaMahieu, before walking Judge. That brought Roberto Osuna from the bullpen and he was throwing smoke - he needed just 21 pitches to record the next five outs to get the game to the ninth inning. Smith would record five outs on 13 pitches before he walked Edwin Encarnacion with two outs in the 11th inning. Ryan Pressly was next and he put Gardner in an 0-2 hole, before he rapped a single in front of Kyle Tucker in right field. Next up was Josh James - he faced just one batter, but what a battle. James was pumping it up there consistently and 98 and 99 miles per hour to Gary Sanchez. Sanchez fouled off eight pitches from James, though his last foul ball should have been ruled strike three since replays showed he did not make contact with the pitch. On the 10th pitch of the at-bat, Sanchez got rung up on a pitch on the outside corner.
The single allowed by Pressly in the 11th inning was the only hit allowed by the bullpen in 4.1 high-intensity pressure packing innings. Every single one of the 66 pitches these five moundsmen threw were with the game tied at 2 with their team facing the possibility of falling behind 2 games-to-none in the ALCS with both losses coming at home, if they were unable to hold down the Yankees. But they did hold down the Yankees, just long enough for Correa to provide the theatrics.
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