The Yankees made a quick impact on the AL Championship Series, winning Game 1 of the best-of-7 series at Minute Maid Park, 7-0. Since then, however, it's been All Astros, who go into Game 5 on Friday night a victory away from winning the series and advancing to the World Series. The Astros won Game 2 in Houston, 3-2 in 11 innings, and have won the first two games at Yankee Stadium by scores of 4-1 and 8-3.
The Astros are looking to become the 15th team to win an LCS in five games out of what will be the 68 best-of-seven LCS played since 1985, when the LCS was expanded from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven series in both the NL and AL. And that includes the Red Sox knocking off the Astros in five games in the ALCS last year, ending Houston's bid to claim back-to-back world championships.
George Springer has only two hits in 17 at-bats the first four games of the ALCS, but the Astros rightfielder's two hits have been significant. It was in Game 2 that Springer delivered a game-tying home run in the fifth inning on the first pitch Yankee reliever Adam Ottavino threw after being hailed from the bullpen. That tied the score at 2-2. The Astros eventually won the game 3-2 in 11 innings.
And then on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium, Springer came up in the third inning, the Astros trailing 1-0, and he unloaded a three-run home run that sent the Astros on their way to an 8-3 victory, and gave them a 3-games-to-1 edge in the best-of-7 series.
But it shouldn't be a total surprise. Springer is one of the most powerful leadoff hitters in history. He hit 39 home runs out of the leadoff spot this season, tying the single-season record for a leadoff hitter that Alfonso Soriano set in 2006.
A strange night for Astros pitcher Zack Greinke, who lasted only 4 1/3 innings in Houston's Game 4 victory, but also allowed only one run in the Astros Game 1. Greinke gave up that one run in the first inning when he walked three batters, the last free pass coming with the bases loaded. That's not Greinke's style. He averaged 1.29 walks per nine innings during the regular season, the third lowest rate among Major League pitchers in 2019.
Since the 2013 seasons, Greinke walked more than four players in a game only once in -- starts, and that game Game 3 of the 2017 NLCS for the Diamondbacks when he issued five walks to the Dodgers in a 3-1 loss -- a stretch of 229 starts.