The season is potentially down to one game for the New York Yankees, who face a 3-1 deficit in the American League Championship Series as they head into a Friday night Game 5 with the Houston Astros. Houston has taken control of this series with three straight victories, including the last two at Yankee Stadium.
New York finished second in baseball in home runs this season with 306, but it has been Houston doing the damage with the long ball, hitting a pair of three-run shots in Game 4 on the way to an 8-3 victory. Since scoring seven runs in their Game 1 win, the Yankees have managed just six over the last three contests.
The moneyline for this contest has the Houston Astros -139 and the New York Yankees +129. The over/under for the game has been set at 7.5.
Justin Verlander goes to the mound for his fourth playoff start this season and 28th of his career, ready to close the door on the Yankees’ hopes. The 36-year-old got a no-decision in Game 2, going 6 2/3 innings and allowing just five hits and two earned runs on an Aaron Judge two-run homer. Verlander has a 4-0 record with a 2.38 ERA in seven appearances against New York in the postseason with Houston and Detroit.
George Springer and Carlos Correa provided the pop in Game 4, each hitting a three-run home run in the victory. Springer has two hits in the series — both home runs — while Correa’s three hits in the series are two home runs and a double. The offense was spread out in Game 4, with seven different players combining for the eight hits and seven different players scoring a run. Houston will look to be aggressive early to take the New York crowd out of the game and take some life out of the Yankees if they can score some runs.
Clutch Hitting Needed
New York’s biggest problem in this series has been coming up with hits with runners in scoring position. The Yankees were 0-for-7 in Game 4, stranding 10 baserunners, and are now 4-for-27 with runners in scoring position in the series, stranding a total of 33 in the four games. There is hope that Giancarlo Stanton will be able to play in Game 5, but the Yankees need everyone to contribute against Verlander to give the team some confidence going forward, assuming there are more games to be played.
James Paxton will get the start in this one, though manager Aaron Boone will likely have an eye on him for any signs of struggling to keep the game from getting out of hand. Paxton lasted only 2 1/3 innings in Game 2, allowing one run on four hits but falling behind nine of 12 hitters after the first pitch. Paxton was 15-6 in the regular season with a 3.82 ERA, winning his last 10 decisions, but he hasn’t taken a decision in his last three starts, including two in the postseason.
The odds are stacked against New York coming back and winning this series, which will make it difficult for them to get up for this game compared to the Astros, who can sniff the World Series. Having Verlander on the mound will be a big advantage for Houston as well. I see a cold night and lots of squandered opportunities again for New York, as Houston moves on. I’m taking the Astros -139 to wrap up the series.