The Houston Astros defeated the New York Yankees 7-1 on Friday night in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series (GameTracker). The best-of-seven series is now knotted at 3-3, and will conclude in a winner-take-all contest on Saturday night.
Here's what you need to know about Game 6.
Altuve, Astros awaken
For as good as Jose Altuve and the Astros lineup was during the regular season and the ALDS, both had scuffled during the ALCS. In fact, the Astros went some 15 innings between runs over the last game-plus, the longest such drought of their season.
Luckily, for Houston, the Astros seemed to snap out of their funk in Game 6. Altuve recorded two hits and drove in three runs. Carlos Correa added two hits of his own. Alex Bregman drove in a pair and reached base multiple times. Yuli Gurriel had a hit and a walk. And so on and so forth. Even Brian McCann, possibly the weakest hitter of the postseason for Houston, played a key part, breaking the scoreless tie with a timely double.
If there was one negative for the Astros lineup, it was the continued struggles from the top of Houston's lineup:
The top two sports in the Astros' batting order are 3-for-37 in the ALCS.— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) October 20, 2017
Verlander shoves again
After Game 2, we discussed how starts like that were part of the reason the Astros went out and got Verlander. Ditto for Game 6.
Verlander didn't go the distance this time, but he did hold the Yankees scoreless over seven innings. He allowed five hits and a walk, and struck out eight batters. That last part is particularly worthwhile, since it granted Verlander access to a premium club:
To think, there was a time where it didn't look like Verlander was going to be a member of the Astros. Now it's hard to imagine this Houston team being a win away from the World Series without him.
Severino stumbles at end
It's fair to write that Game 6 was the biggest start of Luis Severino's career. After all, he was coming off a truncated outing due to a shoulder injury, and had the chance to position the Yankees to win the pennant.
For most of Game 6, Severino delivered. He nor Verlander allowed a baserunner to reach second base until the bottom of the fifth. That's when things fell apart for Severino. It was during that inning that he issued three of his four walks, and that he allowed a Brian McCann double and a Jose Altuve single that made it a 3-0 game.
By the time Severino was lifted, his final line read 4 ⅔ innings, three hits, three runs, four walks, and three strikeouts -- with almost all of the damage coming over those final few batters. What a shame -- because Severino was pretty close to matching Verlander egg for egg.
Frazier's awful swing
Big-league hitters have a nearly impossible job. As such, it's only natural that every now and again a batter is made to look a little foolish. Unfortunately, for Todd Frazier, his time came on Friday. Take a look at this swing:
Justin Verlander just isn't fair. https://t.co/hieAmLBtwu— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 21, 2017
Woof. To make matters a little worse for Frazier, he was pretty, pretty close to being a hero:
Sometimes it's just not your night.
Judge's K-happy postseason continues
Aaron Judge entered Friday night having hit .200/.347/.500 on the postseason. Those aren't the numbers anyone cares about though. Rather, the numbers Judge has posted that have and will continue to receive the most attention have to do with his strikeout total. He entered having fanned 24 times in 40 at-bats. Predictably, that number increased on Friday.
Most K in single postseason:— Doug Kern (@dakern74) October 21, 2017
26+ Aaron Judge 2017
26 Alfonso Soriano 2003
22 Pat Burrell 2010
Six with 21
Judge's two strikeouts tied him with former Yankee Alfonso Soriano for the most in a single postseason. Of course, Soriano struck out 26 times back in 2003, before the strikeout became a more accepted form of out-making. Still, Judge is almost certain to claim the record as his own -- and in a year in which he did that often, this is likely one instance where he'd prefer a different result.
The advantages of hosting
Here's a nifty, if ultimately trivial note. Through the first six games of this series, the home team has won each time. The Astros are undefeated at Minute Maid Park, and the Yankees stormed back to take the 3-2 lead during the three games at Yankee Stadium. There's nothing particularly predictive in that pattern -- it doesn't mean the Astros will win Game 7 because they're the hosts -- but you can bet it'll be a talking point entering the game, if only because there's time to fill.
On to Game 7
The Yankees and Astros will now engage in a Game 7, one of the most exciting events in sports. It'll be the fifth winner-take-all game of the postseason, joining the two wild card games and the two Game 5s from the Yankees-Indians and Cubs-Nationals series. Action will begin at 8 p.m. ET. Ric Flair will be involved.