The Astros stunned the New York Yankees on Saturday afternoon, getting the 2-1 win on Carlos Correa’s game-ending double that scored Jose Altuve from first base for the winning run. It was another thrilling contest that saw the Astros take the early lead. It featured some fantastic defensive plays, great pitching and clutch hitting. The Astros now have the 2-0 lead in the best of seven series as they head to New York.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: There were people who didn’t want the Astros to trade for Justin Verlander. They thought he was too old, and that his contract was too expensive. They thought he was losing his stuff and was no longer the game's most dominating pitcher. These people are strangely quiet now, especially after Game Two’s complete game performance. Verlander gave up just five hits and walked just one batter while striking out 13 hitters. It was one of those great games thrown by great pitchers when everything is on the line. It was the kind of game that a player who has thrown multiple no-hitters and won a Cy Young puts on the résumé to show off to Hall of Fame voters.
CARLOS CORREA: Correa put the Astros on the board first with a fourth-inning home run. The ball barely cleared the right field fence and was caught by a young fan just above the wall, prompting a replay review that upheld the call. The inning before, Correa’s defense helped keep the Yankees off the board as he caught a throw from Josh Reddick in right field, pivoted and fired a strike to Alex Bregman on third base to nail New York’s Brett Gardner trying to stretch a double into a triple. Then came the ninth inning and his game-winning hit.
JOSE ALTUVE: It becomes difficult to write about Altuve because there are only so many adjectives that can be used, and because it seems like Altuve plays a key role in every game the Astros play. He singled off dominant Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the ninth inning with one out. He was off to the races on Correa's double to right field and charged all the way around the bases to score the game-winning run. It's because of plays like that that Altuve is leading the regular season MVP discussion.
JOSH REDDICK: Reddick is on this list solely for his defensive work in the third inning. His leaping catch against the right field wall robbed Chase Headley of what appeared to be a sure home run. The next batter, Brett Gardner, hit a shot down the right field line that Reddick quickly fielded before firing a perfect throw to Correa, who then relayed that throw to Bregman to nail Gardner at third base for the final out of the inning.
THE DFAs (Designated for Assignment)
BRETT GARDNER: There’s a baseball saying that goes, never make the final out of the inning at third base. Gardner, of course, violated that rule, getting thrown at third for the final out in the third inning. Gardner was pretty useless in the rest of his at-bats, striking out three times.
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AARON JUDGE: Judge will likely be this season’s AL Rookie of the Year. But he’s been useless for the Yankees in the playoffs. He was zero-for-four against Verlander and he struck out twice. He also did not get back in time on Correa’s homer because it looked as if a play could have been made on the ball before it went into the stands.
AROLDIS CHAPMAN: The Yankees closer was brought in to the pitch the bottom of the ninth inning. Things did not go well. Chapman struck out Reddick, but then Altuve singled, followed by Correa’s double, and the game was over.
NEW YORK YANKEES OFFENSE: Once again the Yankees offense, one of the more high-powered this season, was shut down by the Astros. The Yankees were able to get just five hits off of Verlander, and one player reached on a base-on-balls. But mainly the offense just floundered. Not only did Verlander strike out 13 batters, but many of those strikeouts came on pitches that just utterly fooled the batters. The Yankees have failed to generate a hit from the DH position in this entire postseason, and 27 of New York's ALCS outs have been by way of the strikeout — an entire game's worth.
Game Three will be on Monday night at 7 p.m. Yankees ace CC Sabathia will take the mound for New York while Charlie Morton gets the call for the Astros. The game will be played in homer-friendly Yankee Stadium. The momentum is definitely in the Astros’ favor, as the last two games are those kinds of losses that can suck the life out of a team. However, the Yankees are going home for three games, and it was returning to Yankee Stadium after falling behind Cleveland 2-0 in the ALDS that helped to trigger the New York comeback in that series.