This was the type of game the Yankees needed. A solid compact outing (not to mention just under three hours), which left for dead bombers now have a pulse and at least a chance to climb back into the American League Championship Series.
“It was just a really good string of at-bats together against obviously Justin, who’s probably the best time to hopefully get to him is early,” said manager Aaron Boone. “With DJ going out there and getting into one and then Judge and Gleyber finding the chalk down there. I thought Giancarlo worked a really tough at-bat. And then Hicks, the same thing, and he was able to clip him.
“It was huge to get off to that start, especially after they scored a run in the first inning. I think it really got our crowd into it even more so. And really Pax took it from there.”
By jumping over Justin Verlander early for four runs, the Yankees were in the driver’s seat and it allowed a somewhat shaky James Paxton to settle in and only allow one run over six innings.
“It was a lot of nerves, was fired up, and I think I was just overthrowing a little bit early,” Paxton said. About the first inning. “They put some good swings on the ball and I was missing my spots a little bit, walking a couple of guys. Just had to battle through it.”
Oh boy he did. And so now we have a series again and the Yankee haters were silenced for another day. The Yankees now have two more games in Houston to complete this comeback. Not an unsurmountable mountain, but still a steep one, nevertheless.
And here is the good news. The Yankees may have the advantage here, at least for tomorrow. Even though they didn’t have the advantage with the starters, by beating Verlander tonight puts the Astros in the position, where they will be forced to do a bullpen game for Game 6.
Of course, they will be matching up against the Yankees bullpen, which means it very well could be advantage Yankees. Even though the starters were the weakness all year, the bullpen has been the Yankees strength.
If they can get some solid innings out of their relievers, there is a good chance that this will go to a Game 7 and then anything can happen.
“I think it’s both teams trying to get outs and trying to do it the best way we can,” Boone said. “We’ve had some — obviously a lot of guys go down this year and different people not available. We’ll just do our best to piece it together.”
The Yankees, though, have to keep it simple. They need to take advantage of Astro mistakes, like tonight when they jumped on Verlander because he wasn’t sharp in the first. They need to grab the runs when they can.
More importantly, they need to be confident in themselves. They won Game 1 in Minute Maid Park, so the place isn’t a Fort Neverlose and they took the Astros to the brink in Game 2. They need to believe they can do it and get the lead early to take the crowd out of it. They way the Yankee fans heckled the Astros will be returned in kind down in Houston.
But that’s what is so great about this series and what makes it so intriguing. The Yankees didn’t roll over and die and now get on a plane and jet to Texas.
Anything can happen now, but one thing is for certain. The Yankees will be taking a plane back to New York at the end of the weekend. Whether they have a date with the Nationals is up to them.