ALCS Game 4: Astros blast past Yankees, move within a win of World Series berth

George Springer and Carlos Correa certainly seem to feed off each other’s success, and it helped the Houston Astros move within a win of the World Series.

For an MLB record sixth time, Springer and Correa homered in the same postseason contest to boost the Astros past the New York Yankees, 8-3, on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. Houston owns a 3-1 lead in the American League Championship Series with the victory.

The duo provided a pair of solo shots in Houston’s Game 2 victory, and they both launched three-run shots Thursday night. Springer’s blast, his second of the series, was his 13th career postseason homer, matching Jose Altuve’s franchise record.

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Correa’s sixth-inning dinger was just his third hit since Game 2 of the ALDS. It plated the first runs of the postseason to be charged to Chad Green, who began throwing in the bullpen as early as the third inning.

Both starters had the bullpens stirring early in the Bronx. Zack Greinke struggled to find his command out of the gate and yielded a run on a bases loaded walk to Brett Gardner in the opening inning. Springer launched his homer as the Astros put five consecutive runners on against Masahiro Tanaka to start the third.

But Greinke and Tanaka also kept things from getting out of hand. Greinke struck out Gary Sanchez, who later earned some redemption after going 2-for-23 to start the postseason, to strand the bases loaded in the first. And Tanaka, with an assist from the mere presence of Aaron Judge’s right-field arm, wriggled out of a first-and-third, no-out jam.

Each member of Houston’s lineup reached base, and all except Yuli Gurriel either recorded a hit or scored a run.

The Yankees gifted the Astros a pair of runs on four errors — two each from first baseman D.J. LeMahieu and second baseman Gleyber Torres — after the sixth inning. It was the first time the Yankees committed four errors in a postseason game since 1976.

Adam Ottavino pitched to two batters in an MLB record fourth postseason appearance in which he failed to record an out. He was greeted with a double down the left-field line from Alex Bregman and was charged with a run after Gleyber Torres booted a Yordan Alvarez grounder.

Torres also failed to corral an Altuve grounder in the ninth, and Michael Brantley capitalized with an RBI single.

Sanchez launched a two-run homer into left field against Josh James in the sixth. It was Sanchez’s third hit, first for extra bases, of the postseason, and his first since Game 1 in Houston. In their three losses in the series, the Yankees have scored three runs on four hits in 11.1 innings against the Astros’ bullpen.

Missed opportunities were a common theme in what seemed like it could have been moving day for the Yankees. New York is now left without any wiggle room as Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole await to close the series.

George Springer matched an Astros record with his 13th career postseason homer. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
George Springer matched an Astros record with his 13th career postseason homer. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

WHO MADE THE DIFFERENCE

  • Zack Greinke: Greinke settled in somewhat after the difficult first inning, but still didn’t show great command. He retired nine in a row before a D.J. LeMahieu single ended his night after 4.1 innings, and was charged with one run on three hits and four walks. He was able to keep the Yankees off-balance, recording five strikeouts, and certainly seemed to bounce back after being pulled after 2.1 innings in his Game 1 loss.

  • Will Harris: The Yankees still showed some life as Ryan Pressly and James both worked into and out of jams. But Harris kept the momentum in the Astros’ favor with a perfect seventh inning, in which he struck out a pair. Harris has not allowed a run in six postseason appearances, spanning 4.1 innings. Joe Smith and Roberto Osuna recorded the final six outs for Houston.

  • Masahiro Tanaka: Springer’s homer produced as many runs as Tanaka had ever allowed in a single postseason start. Even after what amounts to the worst of his eight career playoff appearances, Tanaka still owns a 1.96 ERA in October. Tanaka was far from perfect, but all of his real trouble came in the third inning. He issued a first-inning walk to Michael Brantley, and his final batter, Bregman, reached on an error to start the sixth. In total, he was charged with four runs on four hits and two walks.

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Pressly destroyed a monster of his own creation after Greinke’s exit in the fifth. Back-to-back walks to Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks loaded the bases for Gleyber Torres, who entered the night batting .417 in the postseason, including four hits in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position. But Pressly made 12 pitches to set Torres and Edwin Encarnacion down swinging.

WHAT THEY’LL BE TALKING ABOUT

The inability to produce in the clutch should be a point of focus for both clubs, who were 3-for-21 with runners in scoring position. Both clubs also combined to leave 17 runners on base. New York was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts with the bases loaded Thursday, and they have one hit in 16 at-bats with RISP in the past three games.

Also, C.C. Sabathia suffered an apparent injury in the middle of an at-bat against Springer in the eighth inning. It was likely the final appearance in a 19-year career for Sabathia, who already announced he would retire at the end of the season.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Yankees will have to beat the two best pitchers in the American League to stay alive in the series. First up is Verlander (21-6, 2.58 ERA) on Friday at 7:08 p.m. at Yankee Stadium. James Paxton (15-6, 3.82 ERA) got a quick hook in Game 2 and will probably need to look more like his second-half self to keep the Yankees in the fight.

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