By The Associated Press
Here are three key players to watch for the Astros in the ALCS.
1. Leading Off
George 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.
Gerrit 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.
3. Little Big Man
The 5-foot-6, Jose Altuve, who topped 6-foot-7 Aaron 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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