Karpin: Don’t Write The Yanks’ ALCS Epitaph Just Yet

The story line for tonight’s game three of the American League Championship Series is clearly understood. The Astros held serve at home and have a two games to none lead while the Yankees be trying to mount another remarkable comeback, like the one they pulled off against the 102-win Cleveland Indians in the American League Divisional Series.
If the Yankees do not win tonight, they’ll have the monumental task of trying to become the second team (in baseball post season history) to rally from a three games to none series deficit.
The Yankees don’t want to deal with that challenge so Yankee manager Joe Girardi is going with his pitching version of “ol’ reliable”, C.C. Sabathia, to try and get them back in the series. “He’s been that guy that we’ve kinda relied on,” Yankee Manager Joe Girardi said on the off day presser, “and you know that the situation hasn’t been too big for him.”
Sabathia will be making his 17th post season start for the Yankees and 22nd in his career so the resume’ is without question. The Yankees can feel comfortable in the fact that the veteran southpaw knows how to approach a game of this magnitude. “Just go out and try to be aggressive in the strike zone,” he said, “throw strikes and let them try to swing early in the count and get deeper in the game.”
Easier said than done against a Houston team that brought their “A” game to this series. Sabathia will need to set an early tone like he did in game five of the ALDS against the Indians.
You don’t need to see any numbers to know that the 1-2 punch of Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa have been unstoppable, but the Astros are fundamentally (small ball if you will) sound so look for some bunt attempts early on. The Astros’ scouts have done their homework on Sabathia and the Yankees.
Houston’s dual aces, Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, completely shut down the Yankee offense but the Bombers may be very happy to see Charlie Morton. The Astros’ right hander beat the Yankees at Yankee Stadium back in May but a number of their hitters have good career stats against him and they’re not small samples.
Starlin Castro is batting .400 against Morton with 3 home runs and 9 RBI’s. Todd Frazier is hitting .389 with two home runs and six runs batted in. Chase Headley, who will likely occupy a “DH” spot that has literally been an automatic out, is 3 for 9 (.333) while there is an interesting number that may catch Girardi’s eye. Matt Holliday is 11 for 37 (.297) with 3 home runs and 10 RBI’s against Morton. He also hit a three run homer off the Astros pitcher in that game earlier in the season. It would behoove the Yankees to try and get on the board early and keep the crowd, which figures to be pretty raucous, in the game.
Girardi will play game three as an elimination game but he’ll need to walk a fine line with some of the arms in the bullpen. Win or lose, the Yankees will be playing a game four. David Robertson and Chad Green have thrown a lot lately and you don’t know what kind of toll that will take or has taken on them already. Aroldis Chapman has made only one appearance since last Wednesday and that was game two when he took the loss and threw only 11 pitches. Rookie Jordan Montgomery is on the roster but he has yet to appear in a post season game and Girardi, justifiably, does not trust Dellin Betances.
The plot thickens tonight. The Yankees have absorbed some blows to the mid-section in the post season, including a pair of crushing, walk off losses. They’ve bounced back before. Don’t write the epitaph just yet.

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