Clarke Schmidt gives up two homers after producing clutch double play, Yankees lose 4-2 in ALCS Game 1

HOUSTON — The Yankees beat up on the Guardians on Tuesday night to advance in the playoffs and immediately started talking about slaying the dragons. The Astros have been their nemesis since 2017, eliminating the “Baby Bombers,” in that year’s American League Championship Series, and again in 2019. Minute Maid Park is still a House of Horrors for the Yankees.

Clarke Schmidt gave up two big homers and Frankie Montas coming out of the bullpen gave up another Wednesday night as the Astros rallied to beat the Bombers 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALCS.

The Astros, who swept the Mariners in the last round and waited for the Yankees, take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven game series. The Yankees will try to rebound with Luis Severino on the mound Thursday night. The Astros will send lefty Framber Valdez to the mound.

Jameson Taillon was solid in his outing. In his first ever playoff start, Taillon went 4.1 innings, allowing one earned run on four hits. He walked three and did not record a strikeout. Aaron Boone brought him in to face Jose Altuve and Jeremy Pena in the fifth. He got the Astros second baseman to ground out to first and then Pena hit a scorching ground ball up the third-base line for a double.

Schmidt intentionally walked Yordan Alvarez and then unintentionally loaded the bases with a walk to Alex Bregman. He coaxed a ground ball up the middle out of Kyle Tucker and his defense bailed him out with a double play to get out of the inning unscathed.

He wasn’t as lucky in the sixth. Schmidt hung a slider and Yuli Gurriel hammered it into the Crawford Boxes over the left field wall. Two batters later, Schmidt missed on a sinker he was trying to go in on, hanging it over the middle of the plate for Chas McCormick, who crushed it for his first postseason home run.

Montas, who had been shut down with shoulder inflammation on Sept. 6, made his first postseason appearance as a Yankee. He gave up a 386-foot shot to Pena in the seventh.

Harrison Bader had five home runs in 86 games of the regular season, none with the Yankees. He now has four in six postseason games. He already has the most homers in the first six playoff games as a Yankee in franchise history, surpassing Rual Ibanez, Paul O’Neill and Charlie Keller. It’s the first time in his career that Bader has hit four homers in any six-game span.

Justin Verlander threw Bader back-to-back sliders, the second Bader crushed to left-center field. The 411-foot shot was in his first career at-bat against the Astros’ right-handed ace.

That gave Taillon a 1-0 lead, but the Astros got it back in the bottom of the inning. McComick knocked a two-out single on a ground ball to center field. Catcher Martin Maldonado doubled in the tying run.

And Verlander locked it down, retiring the last 14 hitters he faced — striking out 11.

With his strikeout of Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the fourth inning, Verlander became the all-time leader in career playoff strikeouts. Verlander finished the night with 219 career postseason strikeouts and he surpassed Clayton Kershaw’s mark of 213 after punching out Kiner-Falefa. The veteran recorded his record eighth postseason double-digit strikeout game on Wednesday night.

Anthony Rizzo hit a two-out homer off former Mets prospect Rafael Montero in the eighth to start the rally. Giancarlo Stanton singled and Josh Donaldson drew a walk. The Astros brought in Ryan Pressly to strike out Matt Carpenter and end the threat.