The Astros are just one win away from another trip to the World Series.
Zack Greinke overcame a shaky first inning while George Springer and Carlos Correa provided help on the power front as the Astros defeated the Yankees 8-3 in Game 4 of the ALCS in Yankee Stadium on Thursday night.
Greinke was on the ropes in the bottom of the first inning despite giving up just one hit. He issued three walks in the frame, including one to Brett Gardner with the bases loaded. Gary Sanchez had a chance to blow things open early, but he struck out swinging to let Greinke off the hook.
Masahiro Tanaka carried a lead into the top of the third inning, but he walked Robinson Chirinos to begin the frame before giving up a single to Josh Reddick. That set-up a go-ahead three-run homer off the bat of George Springer. It was the second home run of the series for Springer, who also slugged a game-tying shot in the eventual Game 2 victory. He now has 13 career postseason home runs, putting him one ahead of Jose Altuve for the franchise record.
The Yankees made things interesting in the bottom of the fifth inning, getting two runners on before Greinke was pulled in favor of Ryan Pressly. Aaron Hicks drew a walk to load the bases, but Pressly was able to strike out Gleyber Torres and Edwin Encarnacion to escape. The Yankees simply haven’t been able to shake their struggles with runners in scoring position. They went 0-for-7 in such situations on Thursday.
Tanaka was pulled after Alex Bregman reached on an error by DJ LeMahieu to begin the sixth. Yordan Alvarez managed a one-out single against Chad Green before Game 2 hero Carlos Correa came up big once again with a three-run homer. The Yankees committed four errors in the loss, with LeMahieu and Torres having two each. It was a sloppy one.
In a deep funk this postseason, Sanchez finally broke through with a two-run shot against Josh James in the bottom of the sixth. However, the Astros’ bullpen — Will Smith, Joe Smith, and Roberto Osuna — managed to keep the Yankees’ bats off the board the rest of the way.
We likely said goodbye to a legend on Thursday night, as CC Sabathia came on in relief in the eighth inning and faced four batters before leaving with an apparent injury. He attempted to throw a warm-up pitch to stay in, but there was visible discomfort. He was serenaded with a loud “CC” chant upon leaving the field, but surely this wasn’t what he had in mind for his likely final appearance in a major league game. See you in Cooperstown, CC.
As for the series, it’s literally must-win time for the Yankees. James Paxton is lined up for the start on Friday night after lasting just 2 1/3 innings while allowing one run on four hits back in Game 2. However, it's sure to be an all hands on deck situation. Houston will counter with ace Justin Verlander, who surrendered just a two-run homer to Aaron Judge over 6 2/3 innings in Game 2. The Nationals, fresh off sweeping the Cardinals in the NLCS, await the winner.
Quick Hits: Giancarlo Stanton (quad) was held out of the Yankees’ starting lineup once again in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Astros on Thursday … Andy Martino of SNY.tv reports that Joe Girardi has already interviewed for the Mets’ managerial vacancy … Impending free agent Rich Hill intends to keep pitching in 2020 and hopes to return to the Dodgers … Ron Washington will get a second interview for the Padres’ manager job, though Jon Heyman of MLB Network hears that Rangers assistant Jayce Tingler is the favorite … Indians catcher Roberto Perez underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle on Thursday and is expected to be fully recovered by spring training … Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rays bench coach Matt Quataro is being considered for the Giants’ managerial vacancy … Royals reliever Richard Lovely will be sidelined for 6-8 weeks following knee surgery.