The Houston Astros took Game 1 of the American League Championship Series with a 2-1 victory over the New York Yankees on Friday night, but there's no time to reflect on that result.
Another game is on the docket on Saturday, with the home team looking to take a commanding lead with the same blend of stellar pitching and timely hitting that got the job done on Friday.
Dallas Keuchel was marvelous in throwing seven shutout innings, striking out 10 Yankees to continue his recent dominance of New York.
He got just enough offense as Houston scored twice in the fourth on RBI singles from Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel.
Hoping not to go down 2-0, the Yankees will start right-hander Luis Severino, who was strong in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians after failing to complete an inning in the Wild Card game. The Astros counter with righty Justin Verlander, who is looking to earn his third postseason win after getting two against the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS.
Key for New York: Making Contact
The Yankees struck out 14 times in Game 1, including four times in 1.2 innings against Houston closer Ken Giles. That gives them 83 strikeouts in seven games, compared to 49 hits and 29 walks. They fanned a not-so-nice 69 times during the ALDS, and if Game 1 of the ALCS is any indication, there have been no adjustments made.
And now they have to face Verlander, whom Houston picked up from the Detroit Tigers at the last second before the non-waiver deadline expired in August. Since joining the Astros, he's gone 7-0 in seven appearances, including a win in relief in the ALDS Game 4 clincher over Boston.
Verlander has 46 strikeouts in 42.2 innings with the Astros, with 222 strikeouts overall between Detroit and Houston.
All the strikeouts in Game 1 aside, some key Yankees took stride. Aaron Judge, who had a whopping 16 strikeouts in the ALDS, was 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout. Brett Gardner and Starlin Castro also had singles after going a combined 8-for-43 against Cleveland.
And Greg Bird was 2-for-4 with a ninth-inning home run. Three of his seven hits this postseason have left the yard.
Key Matchup for Houston: Jose Altuve vs. Luis Severino
Jose Altuve may or may not be the American League MVP after leading the league in batting (.346) and hits (204). Along the way it seemed like he got the best of every pitcher he faced, with the man he will be facing to start Game 2 among a select few he hasn't.
Luis Severino retired Altuve in four of five at-bats this season, striking him out twice in the process. Altuve's only hit was an infield single in an 8-1 home win over the Yankees on July 2.
Altuve is the straw who stirs Houston's drink when at the plate, and when he struggles, so usually does his team. In the 34 games he started but did not record a hit, the Astros—who won 101 games—went 18-16 and averaged 3.79 runs per game. They averaged an AL-best 5.53 runs per game overall.
Houston had six hits against Yankees pitching in Game 1, with three by Altuve. His fourth-inning single sparked the Astros' scoring, as he followed that with a stolen base and then scored on Carlos Correa's hit.
Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.
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