If I would have told you that Justin Verlander would pitch seven innings, and have a stretch where he retired twenty out of twenty-one straight batters, you would have thought the Astros would have won with ease last night in game five of the American League Championship Series. But unfortunately for Houston fans, and our bet, Verlander got blasted for four runs in the first before settling down. And those runs were enough to seal the deal for New York and keep their season alive.
After lasting just eight innings over the course of his previous three starts, James Paxton stepped up big time and threw six innings of one-run ball and picked up the must-have win for New York. Aaron Hicks provided the pop with a big three-run home run for the Bronx Bombers. With the win for New York, the series now shifts back to Houston for game six, and both teams will be going with a bullpen day to save up their best starters for a potential game seven.
Starting for the Yankees tonight is Chad Green (1-0 3.18 ERA), and for the Astros it is rookie Jose Urquidy (0-0 0.00 ERA). The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. The Astros are -142 home favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 6:08 PM PST from Minute Maid Park in Houston.
The Yankees are used to opening with Chad Green this season. During the regular season, Green opened fifteen games for New York, and they had some solid success with him on the mound. And he has been used quite a bit in the postseason as well as he already has five postseason appearances. In the first four appearances, he was great as he didn’t even allow a single hit. In his last appearance, he did get roughed up some though as he gave up two earned runs in one inning pitched against the Astros in game four.
The Yankees are hoping to get two innings or more out of Green tonight before turning things over to their bullpen. The Yankees used their bullpen a lot early in his series, but with game four getting rained out, and then Paxton getting deep into last night’s game, the New York bullpen should be rested and ready to go tonight in a must-win game. Don’t be shocked if New York looks to Zach Britton and Aroldis Chapman for three to four combined innings tonight as both are candidates for multi-inning usage.
The Astros will use rookie Jose Urquidy tonight as their opener, but I doubt he will be in the game for very long. Urquidy has been used very sparingly in this postseason, having made just one appearance against the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS. In that game, he tossed an inning and two thirds, allowing three hits and walking one, but he did not allow a run. Urquidy was a late-season call up for Houston and has been used for extended innings, but I think tonight, the Astros will hope to get him through two, maybe three innings, before pulling the plug and turning it over to the bullpen.
This is the matchup that we thought we were getting in game four before the rain washed it away. And just like in that one, I like the New York Yankees in this one. Urquidy scares me, and I would be shocked to see him have any type of extended success tonight. And while this Houston bullpen is strong, they don’t have nearly the type of firepower and marque guys that New York has in their bullpen. In a bullpen on bullpen matchup, it is hard not to like New York, as their bullpen has been one of their biggest strengths all season long.
This game is in Houston, and the Astros have been one of the best home teams we have ever seen this year. And to see the Astros as fairly large favorites isn’t all that shocking. But I think the Yankees find a way to win tonight and force a game seven. The Astros know that they have Gerrit Cole waiting in game seven, so I don’t think they are going to bankrupt their season to win tonight.
The Yankees? They know they have to win tonight, and they are going to do whatever it takes to make that happen. This series has been lower scoring than many expected, and I think that the Yankees find a way to break out the bats tonight and put some crooked numbers up on the board. Betting against home teams in the playoffs is always a risky proposition, but the road team has won three times in the first five-game of this series, so it could happen one more time. Give me the New York Yankees as road favorites tonight in a must-win game six from Minute Maid Park in Houston at +132!
The Bet: New York Yankees +132