There will be no day off for baseball fans Friday as the Houston Astros host the New York Yankees in Game 6 of the 2017 American League Championship Series.
Houston took an early 2-0 series lead but New York responded with three straight wins at home to get one game away from its 41st American League pennant. If the Yankees win, it will be the second straight series from which they've advanced after dropping the first two games.
Houston and New York will be fighting for the right to face off with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who claimed the National League pennant with their 11-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night.
Game 6: Friday, Oct. 20, at 8:08 p.m. ET, FS1
Game 7 (if necessary): Saturday, Oct. 21, at 8:08 p.m. ET, FS1
Tickets for Games 6 and 7 are available on StubHub.
Odds Guide (via OddsShark)
Game 6 Odds: Astros -140, Yankees +120
World Series Odds: Dodgers -110, Yankees +190, Astros +500
Justin Verlander was masterful in his last start, allowing one earned run over nine innings in the Astros' 2-1 Game 2 victory over the Yankees. Houston may need a similar performance if it's going to stay alive in the ALCS.
Offense wasn't a problem for the Astros in the ALDS. They scored eight runs in each of their first two wins and then put up five runs—including two on Chris Sale—in their series-clinching Game 5 victory.
In the ALCS, however, Houston has crossed the plate a combined nine times.
Jose Altuve is 5-for-18 in the ALCS but hasn't registered an extra-base hit. Marwin Gonzalez is 2-for-15 without a single RBI after leading the team in the category (90 RBI) during the regular season. George Springer is only 2-for-18, and the trio of Brian McCann, Josh Reddick and Carlos Beltran have one hit in 39 at-bats.
"The playoffs, as we talked earlier today about advanced scouting and exposing weaknesses, if they get you to crack a little bit outside of your game plan then they've got you," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said after the team's Game 5 loss, per MLB.com. "We haven't stayed in our game plan quite well enough to make adjustments."
Getting to Luis Severino early will be vital for Houston.
Game 5 was essentially New York's best-case scenario. Not only did the Yankees win, but Masahiro Tanaka also went seven innings, thus saving the team's bullpen for Game 6. Tommy Kahnle was the only reliever New York used as he pitched the final two innings.
That means Chad Green, David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman should all be rested and ready to go Friday night. Even taking Betances out of the equation after his underwhelming postseason so far, Green, Robertson and Chapman could pitch the final four or five innings of Game 6.
Severino had an ignominious postseason debut, allowing three earned runs in a third of an inning in the American League Wild Card Game. ESPN.com's Buster Olney noted that Yankees starters—Severino included—have been largely excellent since then:
Returning home could be what the Astros need to reinvigorate their offense, and Houston is helped by the fact New York finished a game under .500 (40-41) away from Yankee Stadium.
Game 6 could go either way. Houston's bats have to wake up sooner or later, and the Astros will feel confident with Verlander on the mound. But the same was said of the Cleveland Indians heading into Game 5 of the ALDS, and they exited the playoffs following their 5-2 defeat to New York.
The Astros will experience a similar fate as Severino is just good enough to hand over an early lead to the Yankees bullpen, which seals the deal on a Game 6 win and sends the team to the World Series.
Prediction: Yankees win series 4-2
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