ALCS Game 1: Masahiro Tanaka to start for New York Yankees vs

Tricia Pearson
October 14, 2017

The American League Championship Series gets started tonight in Houston, with the AL West champion Astros hosting the wild-card Yankees.

If the Astros win: They will keep rolling, especially at home, where they outscored the Boston Red Sox by a 16-4 margin in the first two games of their division series. "I don't really care who we're facing, it's going to be that order". McHugh replaced infielder Tyler White as the only change on their ALCS roster. Gonzalez only hit.200 in the ALDS, but he'll get more pitches to hit than those further up the lineup and a clutch hit or two could turn the tide of the series.

While the Astros have a pitching staff full of flamethrowers - bolstered by the addition of former Cy Young Award victor Justin Verlander in August - they have chosen lefty Dallas Keuchel, the softest-tossing pitcher on their staff (88.7 miles per hour average fastball), to start Game 1 for them Friday night, opposite Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees' rotation was impressive against Cleveland after Sonny Gray's Game 1 flop.

"Extremely talented offensively", Girardi said of the Astros. "But I think it's just a coincidence that my command and location have been better than what it usually is against them". In other words, they've become very disciplined at the plate and are aggressive about it.

Hinch told reporters that the Astros has a huge advantage with both Keuchel and Verlander going back to back to open the series. Not only is Keuchel 3-1 with a 2.28 ERA over his past four starts, including a win over Boston in Game 2, but he is also arguably the most prolific Yankee-slayer among starting pitchers in modern times.

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"I have a ton of confidence in him", Girardi said of Tanaka.

Verlander v. Severino: In Game 2, Luis Severino starts for the Yankees while Justin Verlander starts for the Astros. In particular, it will bear watching how a Yankees bullpen loaded with hard-throwing relievers fares against an Astros offense that mashed heaters to the tune of.301/.373/.525 during the regular season. So if I wait until game three, you don't know if you're going to get there.

"There's so many young guys on this team that maybe they don't realize they are supposed to lose", Singleton said.

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