The Houston Astros were not about to return to Minute Maid Park and hand the American League Championship Series to the New York Yankees. After dropping three games at Yankee Stadium, the Astros combined timely hitting with Justin Verlander's shutdown pitching to record a 7-1 victory Friday night.
The series is tied 3-3, and the Houston win forces a seventh game, which will be played Saturday at 8 p.m. and will be televised by FS1.
Charlie Morton will take the mound for the Astros, and he was 14-7 with a 3.62 earned-run average during the regular season. Morton has had his issues in the postseason, with an 0-1 record and a 10.13 ERA.
CC Sabathia will take the mound for the Yankees, and he had a solid regular season with a 14-5 record and a 3.69 ERA. Sabathia has gotten the job done in the postseason with a 1-0 record and 2.30 ERA. The big lefthander has struck out 19 hitters with seven walks throughout the playoffs.
While Sabathia would seem to give the Yankees an edge in the decisive game, Houston manager A.J. Hinch will have all hands on deck in a Game 7, and that includes Dallas Keuchel.
Verlander met with the press after Game 6 and said his availability will depend on how he feels when he arrives at the Minute Maid Park Saturday.
Sabathia is looking forward to leading the Yankees in the seventh game. “It’s going to be exciting, the opportunity to go to the World Series,” Sabathia said, per Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post. “One game. I’m excited.”
Yankee manager Joe Girardi said his team has won different types of games in the playoffs, and he is confident in his team.
"You know, we’ve won all kind of different games,” Girardi said. “We won some high-scoring games, we won one 1-0. It’s a situation these guys have been in a lot.”
The Astros were able to force a Game 7 as a result of timely hitting Friday night that backed Verlander's pitching. Brian McCann drove home the first run of the game with a fifth-inning ground-rule double, and Jose Altuve contributed a two-run single later that inning.
The Yankees scored their only run on Aaron Judge's fourth home run of the postseason in the eighth, but the Astros removed all the drama from the game with four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Astros are -125 favorites (bet $125 to win $100) for the winner-takes-all game, while the Yankees are +115 underdogs (bet $100 to win $115), according to OddsShark.
The home team has won the first six games in the ALCS, so we are safe in saying that the Astros will find a way to win Game 7 at home, correct?
Not necessarily. The Yankees have a solid veteran pitcher in Sabathia, who should remain calm and effective when facing the pressure of a winner-takes-all game.
Morton has a great arm and has swing-and-miss stuff, but he has not been at his best in the postseason. The Yankee batters saw Justin Verlander in Game 6, and they should have a much better chance of hitting Morton and the Houston relievers.
Here's another factor to consider: There have only been three best-of-seven series in Major League Baseball history that has seen the home team win every game. The 1987 Minnesota Twins beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series in that manner, and the Twins did it again in 1991 against the Atlanta Braves. The 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks beat the New York Yankees in a seven-game World Series with the home team winning every game.
We don't think it will happen to the Yankees for the second time. Sabathia is effective in Game 7, and the Yankees will find a way to scratch out runs against Morton and the rest of the Houston pitching staff.
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