5th Inning: Sign Stealing Still an Issue?
Very interesting stuff from Ken Rosenthal on the FS1 broadcast during the fifth inning. He said A.J. Hinch and Aaron Boone met before the game to talk about the sign-stealing issue, and reported that an unnamed person with the Yankees said they thought the Astros were whistling from the dugout to signal which pitch was coming. Hinch called that “a joke,” and Rosenthal said Hinch and Boone put the matter “to bed” in their discussion.
But he added that all the paranoia has distracted Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez behind the plate, perhaps accounting for all the balls he has let get by the last couple of games. But FS1 just showed a replay of some of them, and on at least one, Sanchez was turning his head away.
Meanwhile, no one seems to know what pitches are coming from Paxton and Verlander, who continue to deal. Verlander has allowed one base runner since the Yankees’ four-run first.
4th Inning: Yankees Plugging Away Against History
Here’s a couple of numbers to show what the Yankees are up against in trying to come back from a 1-3 deficit in a best-of-seven-game series. There have been 86 such postseason series in which a team took a three-games-to-none advantage, and 73 of those teams went on to win the series, or 85 percent. Forty-four of those teams (51 percent) won the series in five games. The last team to do it was the Boston Red Sox — no, not in 2004. In 2007 they came back from 1-3 to beat the Cleveland Indians in the A.L.C.S.
Meanwhile, Paxton strikes out two more Astros for another scoreless inning. He has six K’s and has thrown 76 pitches. Verlander had a third straight scoreless inning and struck out Gary Sanchez, who is now 2 for 19 in the series. Sanchez hears a few boos as he returns to the dugout. A note on Hicks: He was 1 for 17 with 6 strikeouts against in the regular season against Verlander before that home run.
3rd Inning: Starters Finding Their Groove
Suddenly, this game is a pitcher’s duel. Paxton’s pitch count is up to 63 after three innings, but he just tossed a second straight scoreless inning, and benefited from a good defensive play by D.J. LeMahieu, who tracked down a high foul pop-up by Yuli Gurriel for the final out, and fell over while making the tricky catch.
Interesting in-game interview with Astros Manager A.J. Hinch during that frame. He acknowledged that Verlander was indeed over-throwing a bit or, as he called it, “jumping off the rubber a little bit.” Verlander is still pumping in high fastballs above the Yankees’ swing paths — and a few very high ones to bring Robinson Chirinos out of his stance — but he got the Yankees in order again and has now retired eight straight. Stanton made contact for the final out, but hit a harmless ground ball to short. He jogged fairly hard down the line.
2nd Inning: No More Runs, but the Stadium’s Buzzing
Yankee Stadium is alive and this game has an entirely different feel compared to Game 4 on Thursday. But Verlander was able to stabilize himself and get a 1-2-3 inning. One has to assume he went directly into the video room to see what he was doing wrong in that first inning. It appeared to be over-throwing, for the most part.
James Paxton also settled down in the top half of the second inning, and did not allow any balls in play. He gave up a leadoff walk and a base hit to Jake Marisnick, but struck out Yordan Alvarez, Robinson Chirinos and George Springer.
The home plate umpire, Mark Carlson, was also behind the plate in Game 7 of the 2017 A.L.C.S., when the Astros beat the Yankees, 4-0, behind a combined three-hit, 11-strikeout shutout from Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers, Jr. He seems to have a pretty big strike zone tonight.
1st Inning: Yankees Come Out Swinging
It was a dramatic first inning for the Yankees, who scored four times on a pair of home runs. D. J. LeMahieu hit a leadoff shot (the seventh in Yankees postseason history) to even the score at 1-1. That helped erase the bad feelings from the top of the first, which did not go well for the Yankees because of more sloppy play.
But the Yankees poured it on against Justin Verlander, who also gave up a three-run home run to Aaron Hicks on a hanging slider. Hicks ripped it down the line and it hit the foul pole as Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres scored ahead of him.
The first three Yankees reached base as Verlander did not record an out until he struck out Giancarlo Stanton.
Verlander threw 29 pitches, which is key because Astros Manager A.J. Hinch does not want to have to empty his bullpen tonight.
In the top of the inning James Paxton and Torres failed to field a ground ball off the bat of George Springer, who advanced a base on a passed ball by Gary Sanchez and then scored on a wild pitch. It was not what the Yankees wanted to see after their sloppy showing in Game 4 on Thursday when they committed four errors.
1. George Springer RF
2. Jose Altuve 2B
3. Michael Brantley LF
4. Alex Bregman 3B
5. Yuli Gurriel 1B
6. Carlos Correa SS
7. Yordan Alvarez DH
8. Robinson Chirinos C
9. Jake Marisnick CF
Justin Verlander P
1. D.J. LeMahieu 1B
2. Aaron Judge RF
3. Gleyber Torres 2B
4. Giancarlo Stanton DH
5. Aaron Hicks CF
6. Gary Sanchez C