New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi paid respect to the Houston Astros, particularly second baseman Jose Altuve.
Girardi led the Yankees back from a two-game American League Division Series hole against the Cleveland Indians, and he is now ready to pull off another upset against the Astros.
He praised Houston's vaunted lineup Thursday, pointing out how deep and versatile it is.
"Extremely talented offensively," Girardi said of the Astros.
"It's a club that scores a lot of runs but doesn't swing and miss very much. I think when you look at them it's a complete lineup throughout. They're aggressive on the base paths so you have to control that. They're going to hit their home runs, but they're going to do a lot of other things offensively. So you need to make pitches."
Second baseman Altuve was singled out, and Girardi recognised him as a force.
"Oh, he's a great player, and he's been for a number of years here," Girardi said.
"Obviously he plays the game the right way, he plays extremely hard. And it's a guy that not only gets 200 hits a year but is extremely productive with the home runs, the doubles, and all the things, driving in the runs that he does."
Masahiro Tanaka will start game one for the Yankees on Friday. He tossed seven shut-out innings with seven strikeouts in a game three win over the Indians.
"I have a ton of confidence in him," Girardi said of Tanaka.
"When you think about the way he's been pitching lately, you think about him having the possibility of making two starts in a series. So if I wait until game three, you don't know if you're going to get there. Then his next start would be game seven. So one way of guaranteeing him one start at home is one and five. So that's why we chose to do it, and we loved what he did his last start and give us whatever you got."