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Thursday MLB postseason open thread

Trey Mancini and the Houston Astros will look to stretch their ALCS lead to 2-0 as they face Aaron Judge and the Yankees

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

If you like great pitching, solo HRs and the Yankees losing, game 1 of the ALCS was for you! The Astros got six strong innings out of AL Cy Young favorite Justin Verlander—which included striking out 11 Yankees and only allowing three hits. The only run Verlander ceded was via a Harrison Bader solo blast in the fourth inning. Lucky for the Astros, they had three solo blasts of their own. Yuli Gurriel and Chas McCormick each connect for solo bombs in the sixth inning, while Jeremy Pena joined the solo shot party in the seventh. Ryan Pressly got the last four outs for the Astros—including three Ks—to wrap things up nicely for the hometown Stros.

As we pointed out in our playoff thread yesterday, there isn’t a feel-good team to root for from the perspective of Birdland in this ALCS. Houston has even found a way to put a damper on the Trey Mancini connection, as he was benched in favor of Aledmys Diaz in Game 1. Here’s to hoping Trey sees the field in Game 2!

7:37- Yankees at Astros, Game 2, TBS (Astros lead 1-0)

Starting Pitchers: Luis Severino (NYY) vs. Framber Valdez (HOU)

The starting pitching matchup in this one is an odd juxtaposition in that the Astros throw Valdez—the AL’s leader with 201.1 innings pitched this year—while the Yankees counter with Severino (someone who hasn’t topped 200 innings pitched in the last four seasons combined). Not only did Valdez lead the American League in innings, but also in curveball usage, so look for his big-bending breaking ball to play a factor in this matchup. Unsurprisingly, Aaron Judge crushed curveballs this year, to the tune of a .256 average with a .651 slugging percentage. However, it is actually teammate Giancarlo Stanton who has the best career numbers against Valdez, going 4-8 with a HR and 3 RBIs in his previous meetings against the Astros’ lefty.

As for Severino, he’ll be looking to rewrite some of his recent history against Houston. The hard-throwing right had back-to-back starts against the Astros back in June—and neither turned out particularly well for the Yankees. To be fair to Severino, the two losses were entirely his fault—as he only allowed five runs across a combined 12 innings. The Yankees will look to get Severino more run support tonight if they want to avoid that losing fate. In both Severino starts this year against the Astros —as well as when Severino started in Game 3 of the 2019 ALCS—the Yankees only scored one run. Gurriel and Jose Altuve are the Astros with the most career success against Severino, each having seven career hits and a HR off the Yankees starter.

If you’re looking for history to guide you in how this ALCS might turn out, that game one win might not be such a good thing for the Astros. Back in 2019. the Yankees won the first game in Houston 7-0—only to go onto lose four of the next five to give the pennant to Houston. So maybe, this 1-0 advantage is a bad omen for the Stros, or perhaps history just won’t find a way to repeat itself in 2022.