Gave One Away. Houston 4 NY 2 in Game 1 of ALCS

Anthony Rizzo hits homer with 2 outs in 8th to make it 4-2, and spark a rally that fell short.

Fresh off the big win over Cleveland to win the ALDS the night before, the ensuing celebration, and then late night flight into Houston, the Yankees seemed to give this game away — treating it like a ‘nice to have’ win.

That aura comes from manager Aaron Boone bringing in Frankie Montas to pitch in the 7th inning, NY down 3-1. It was surprising Montas was even on the ALCS roster — he mostly pitched poorly for NY late in the year, was on the Injured List (IL) in September, and hadn’t been seen in a month.

But here he was in game 1 of the ALCS, and there went the baseball high into the domed night air and into the left field bleachers — a homer by first batter Jeremy Pena on the 3rd pitch by Montas and it was a 4-1 game.

Anthony Rizzo hit a homer in the 8th to make it 4-2, and NY put 2 runners on in that inning, but Astros ace reliever Ryan Pressly put out the fire.

Earlier, Clarke Schmidt was the hero of the 5th getting a double play to end a bases loaded threat, but was the goat of the 6th — allowing 2 homeruns — to put NY down 3-1. The Yanks got an early run off Justin Verlander on a Harrison Bader homer, but couldn’t touch him after that.

“He made his pitches, hit his spots, we just couldn’t get anything going against him,” said Aaron Judge afterwards about Verlander. “We had a couple of opportunities with guys on base, but we just couldn’t come up with that timely hit early in the game to kind of keep him on his toes.”

Overall, a frustrating loss. The Yankees coulda won this game.

1. Bader Gets to Verlander

Justin Verlander is coming off a Cy Young season with a 18-4 1.75 record, but he had been bombed by Seattle in the 1st game of the ALDS.

Verlander looked sharp in the 1st inning but in the 2nd, Harrison Bader hit a hanging slider for a homerun to left and 1-0 Yankee lead.

In the 3rd, Anthony Rizzo walked and Giancarlo Stanton hit a line drive to left that hit off the wall for a double — just missing a homer by a few feet. It would have changed the narrative of this game. Instead it was 2nd and 3rd, 1 out. Verlander got tough and struck out Josh Donaldson swinging and Matt Carpenter looking.

A turning point.

After that Verlander got on a roll — striking out all 3 batters in the 3rd and the first batter of the 4th for 6 strikeouts in a row. Overall he retired the next 11 in a row, striking out 9. He left after 6 innings.

2. Taillon Matched Verlander

As impressive as Verlander was, Jamesson Taillon matched him. Taillon allowed an RBI double to Martin Maldonado in the 2nd but overall had great stuff and was cruising into the 5th with a 1-1 game.

Taillon was helped by great defense from his outfield. Aaron Judge made a tremendous diving catch with 1st and 2nd, 1 out in the 1st.

And Giancarlo Stanton made a couple of excellent catches in left, including a catch in the 4th where he literally broke the outfield wall scoreboard.

But with 1 out in the 5th, Jeremy Pena doubled and Taillon got the hook with 67 pitches thrown. It seemed premature.

“In the playoffs it’s all about matching the other guy, not giving up runs,” said Taillon afterwards. “I didn’t necessarily feel I had my best stuff but was able to keep us in the game, limit them at 1. Felt like I did my job. But yea, that’s a tough lineup.”

3. Schmidt from Hero to Goat

Clarke Schmidt came in and intentionally walked Yordan Alvarez, then unintentionally walked Alex Bregman and it was bases loaded, 1 out.

But Schmidt got Kyle Tucker to hit into a HUGE double play to end the inning. Schmidt = Hero.

Unfortunately in the 6th, Schmidt yielded a solo homer to Yuli Gurfiel and then to Chas McCormick and NY was down 3-1.

Schmidt = goat.

According to Katie Sharp, “Clarke Schmidt faced 140 right-handed batters during the regular season and allowed just 2 HR. Tonight, in a span of 3 batters, he allowed 2 HR to right-handed batters.”

4. Montas?

In came Frankie Montas to pitch the 7th, NY down 3-1 but still a bloop and a blast away.

And there went the baseball high into the Houston domed night air — the homerun by Jeremy Pena for the 4-1 Houston lead.

5. Rizzo Homer Sparks Late Rally

Jordan Romano came in for the 8th and struck out the first two batters. But then an Anthony Rizzo homer gave the Yankees life.

Giancarlo Stanton followed with a single to center and Josh Donaldson worked a 3-2 walk and the Yanks were in business, with the tying run at 1st and the go-ahead run at the plate.  And Matt Carpenter up.

But Houston brought in their ace reliever Pressly, who struck out Carpenter swinging on a 2-2 pitch to end the frame.

In the 9th, Pressly got strikeout, strikeout, groundout for the old ballgame.


  • Boone brought in Miguel Castro to pitch the 9th — and he threw a 1-2-3 inning. Castro was on the roster of the ALDS but didn’t pitch. The move added to the aura that this was a ‘nice to have’ game for NY, but also a good one to get guys work to get sharp.
  • Jameson Taillon grew up in Houston as a die hard Astros fan, and used to go to games at this park, including playoff games, he said afterwards.

The Boxscore

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