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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:56 AM

ALCS - Yankees vs. Astros

2019 Head-to-Head Matchups (Houston 4-3, Over 5-2)

New York vs. Houston (Minute Maid Park)
April 8 – Astros 4, Yankees 3 (Under 8)
April 9 – Astros 6, Yankees 3 (Over 8)
April 10 – Astros 8, Yankees 6 (Over 8)

Houston vs. New York (Yankee Stadium)
June 20 – Yankees 10, Astros 6 (Over 10)
June 21 – Yankees 4, Astros 1 (Under 9)
June 22 – Yankees 7, Astros 5 (Over 10)
June 23 – Astros 9, Yankees 4 (Over 10)

The National League Championship Series matchup between the Cardinals and Nationals wasn’t expected when the season began. The American League Championship Series pits the Yankees and Astros, who were expected to hook up for the pennant before the season started.

New York (103-59) won its first AL East title since 2012, while coming off its second consecutive 100-victory season. The Yankees were bounced in the ALDS by the rival Red Sox last October in four games, but New York made quick work of Minnesota this time around in a three-game sweep of the AL Central champions.

The Bronx Bombers outscored the Twins, 18-6 in a pair of home blowouts before New York knocked out Minnesota, 5-1 in Game 3 at Target Field. Shortstop Didi Gregorious led the Yankees with six runs batted in during the series, including a grand slam in the Game 2 rout. Five different Yankees homered in the series, but none of those came off the bat of slugger Aaron Judge, who has drilled seven postseason homers in his short career.

The three starting pitchers for the Yankees against Minnesota all lasted five innings or less as the bullpen received plenty of work. Masahiro Tanaka (11-9, 4.45 ERA) shut down the Twins in Game 2 of the ALDS by striking out seven and scattering three hits in five innings of an 8-2 triumph. Since June 11, the Yankees are 15-4 in Tanaka’s past 19 starts, as the veteran gets the call in Game 1 of the ALCS. New York owns a 1-1 record in Tanaka’s two outings as a road underdog this season, including in a 4-3 setback at Minute Maid Park to the Astros on April 8. Tanaka allowed only one run in six innings and left with a 3-1 lead, but Houston rallied for three runs against the New York bullpen.

Southpaw James Paxton (15-6, 3.82 ERA) is unbeaten in his last 12 starts for New York, while picking up a no-decision in a 10-4 victory over Minnesota in the ALDS opener. The Yankees are 6-0 in Paxton’s past six road outings, as the left-hander split a pair of starts against the Astros this season. Paxton was tagged for five runs in four innings of an 8-6 setback at Minute Maid Park in April, but rebounded for a 4-1 home victory over the Astros in June even though he tossed just five innings.

Luis Severino (1-1, 1.50 ERA) won a career-high 19 games last season, but a rotator cuff issue sidelined the Yankees’ right-hander until September. Severino never pitched past the fifth inning in four starts, but he allowed a total of two earned runs in 16 innings of work, while the Yankees own a 16-3 record in his past 19 home starts since the beginning of 2018. Last season, Severino dominated the Astros by yielding two earned runs and striking out 21 batters in 16 innings as New York beat Houston twice.

The Astros (107-55) are coming off their best regular season in franchise history as Houston is headed to its third consecutive ALCS. Back in 2017, the Astros claimed their first ever championship by outlasting the Dodgers in seven games, one round after beating the Yankees in seven games. However, Houston fell short of its second consecutive pennant by losing in five games to eventual champion Boston.

The Astros were cruising past the Rays in the ALDS by winning the first two games at home easily, but Tampa Bay forced a Game 5 with a pair of home victories. Houston finished the job in Game 5 at Minute Maid Park with four runs in the first inning of a 6-1 triumph as A.J. Hinch’s club is playing in a third consecutive LCS for the first time in franchise history.

Houston’s triple threat on the mound is as intimidating as any in recent memory. The Astros have the two top Cy Young candidates in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, but since they pitched in the final two games of the Rays’ series, it will be Zack Greinke taking the mound in Game 1.

Greinke (18-5, 2.93 ERA) would be an ace on nearly every other team in baseball, but he has taken a backseat to Verlander and Cole after getting acquired from Arizona at the trade deadline in July. The former Cy Young winner was racked for six runs in 3.2 innings in Game 3 of the ALDS at Tampa Bay in a 10-3 defeat. Greinke’s two worst starts since joining the Astros came against the Rays, as he allowed five runs in a 9-8 home defeat in late August. Houston owns an 8-3 record in Greinke’s 11 starts, including a 3-1 mark at Minute Maid Park. In Greinke’s final start as a member of the Diamondbacks, he picked up a no-decision in a 7-5 loss to the Yankees in which he gave up two runs in five innings.

Verlander (21-6, 2.58 ERA) put together polar opposite starts in the ALDS as he yielded only one hit in seven innings of a 6-2 triumph in Game 1. However, the Rays got to the former MVP and Cy Young winner in Game 4 by scoring four runs off Verlander in less than four innings of a 4-1 defeat by the Astros. Since losing to the Tigers as a -500 favorite on August 21, the Astros are 7-2 in Verlander’s past nine starts, while Houston is 13-5 in his 18 outings at Minute Maid Park. The Astros won both of Verlander’s starts against the Yankees this season, while Houston is 5-1 against New York with him on the mound since 2017.

Cole (20-5, 2.50 ERA) has been the best pitcher in baseball since mid-July as Houston has won 15 consecutive starts made by the former UCLA standout. Seven of those wins came away from Minute Maid Park, as the right-hander will start Game 3 of the ALCS. Cole dominated Tampa Bay in the ALDS by striking out 25 batters and allowing six hits and one run in 15.2 innings of work. Cole is riding an 11-start streak of double-digit strikeouts, while receiving a no-decision in his lone start against the Yankees back in April. The former Pirates’ hurler tossed seven innings and gave up three runs as the Astros rallied for a 6-3 win, marking the only start he has made against New York since being acquired by Houston in 2018.

The Astros and Yankees are meeting in the playoffs for only the second time ever as Houston edged New York in seven games back in 2017. In that series, the home team won all seven contests, while the Yankees were limited to three runs in four losses at Minute Maid Park. The Yankees are seeking their first World Series appearance since 2009 when they topped the Phillies in six games.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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