October 12, 2017
By: Steve Degler
What a comeback by the New York Yankees!! Down two games to none against the top team in the American League, the Bronx Bombers rattled off three straight wins to stun the defending AL champion Cleveland Indians. The reward? A best-of-seven American League Championship Series against the second best team in the junior circuit, the Houston Astros. Sure beats the alternative, right?
The Tanks and 'Stros met seven times during the regular season. Houston won five of them but outscored New York by just two runs, 43-41. There were 18 home runs, 11 hit by the Astros. This series will be played in two very hitter friendly ballparks so expect some offense.
The Yankees are playing with house money at this point. They truly can be as loose as possible. Their road here has been much tougher than the Astros, who had a relatively easy ALDS win over Boston. Houston has been off since Monday. That could be a disadvantage. When a team is playing well, it doesn't want time off. The Yankees will roll into Houston with a lot of momentum.
One area of concern on the New York side. In the seven games against Houston, the Yankees struck out a whopping 87 times!! That's in 62 innings. You need to make productive outs in the postseason. Walking back to the dugout with your bat in your hands will not get it done.
Brett Gardner hit .429 against the Astros and Didi Gregorius has people asking Derek who? OK, maybe not. But he has had a great couple of seasons at shortstop. The Yankees got great starting pitching games three and four against Cleveland. That will have to continue for them to have any chance in this series. The Astros just mash the baseball from 1-9 in their lineup.
Jose Altuve. George Springer. Carlos Correa. Three bona fide superstars. Throw in Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman, Marwin Gonzalez, Evan Gattis and Josh Reddick, and you don't find many easy outs in the Houston batting order.
Look for a lot of runs and a very entertaining series. This will come down to bullpens and defense. You must protect leads and you can't give away outs. The Yankees are way ahead of schedule. Sports Illustrated predicted three years ago that the Astros would win the 2017 World Series. That hope stays alive...barely. Astros in 6 to advance to the Fall Classic.