Sports

Astros starting Keuchel in Game 1, Verlander in Game 2

Astros starting Keuchel in Game 1, Verlander in Game 2

Since that time the Yankees improved themselves, adding Gray, third baseman Todd Frazier, and Kahnle, who has proven to be a key part of New York's dominant bullpen.

He knows the history.

Keuchel, who ended the Yankees' previous postseason experience in the 2015 wild-card game, will start Game 1 after Verlander closed out the Red Sox in the ALDS.

Prediction: Astros in six games.

Girardi certainly had no concerns about the state of his players after an emotional ALDS when facing elimination three consecutive games - and that was after the win-or-go-home AL wild-card game over Minnesota. "And just because it's the Yankees, you kind of get a little more amped and a little more jittery because it's the pinstripes and such a storied organization".

Elsewhere, the World Series champion Chicago Cubs gained the upper hand in their NL division series with a 2-1 win over the Washington Nationals.

So, this season marks the first trip to the ALCS for the Astros, and it is also the first trip for two local guys on the roster. He's 0-3 with a 7.20 ERA in the World Series.

Gurriel also closed the regular season strong, hitting.385 with nine RBIs in his last 15 games.

Clayton Kershaw will start Game 1 and the club will wait to find out who its opponent will be before making a decision on Games 2 (Sunday) and 3 (Wednesday). That and the fact they scored 43 runs in piling up a 5-2 record versus the Yanks in the regular season.

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The manager's miscues from Game 2 of the AL Division Series no longer mattered, all thanks to the battling baby Bronx Bombers. "I think certain veterans on the team steer them in the right direction, too, like CC Sabathia. He knows he can get out anybody in the league". They went on to take the series.

The Astros' prolific offence is the flawless blend of power and savvy base-hitting, a big reason they were able to dominate so many teams offensively this season. After games at Minute Maid Park on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, the series will shift to Yankee Stadium for Game 3 on Monday.

"It's the way our team is built", Astros catcher Brian McCann said. "They went about their business and got it done". "There's no let-up".

"For that win in the wild-card game, it wasn't just special for me and the validation, it was special for everybody to go into NY and play that well", he said. And in Game 1, they didn't waste any time putting it to good use. "Then after that is where it gets a little thought-provoking, I guess". The bulk of that comes at the back of the bullpen.

Francona named Bauer his Game 1 starter, followed by the likely Cy Young victor Kluber for Game 2.

"It is a little insane", said McCann, the 33-year-old catcher who was traded by the Yankees to Houston last winter. "The new age (of hitters) - lift the ball, get under the ball ... trajectory, backspin, you name it, they have a bunch of those guys".

Judge, is a hot topic coming into the series, of course. But Judge has had a tough time, going just 1 for 20 with 16 strikeouts in the five-game win over Cleveland.

"I have been trying to hit it the other way so it felt good", said Bellinger. "I think he's a tremendous talent and one swing can change the course of the game".


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