BRONX — “We passed the baton,” George Springer said when asked about the Houston Astros’ thriving offense that sprinted out in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. It was a sprint that would help Houston accumulate enough runs to give them an 8-3 victory over the New York Yankees on a blustery Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.
Despite Zack Grienke gifting the Yankees a run in the first inning by walking Brett Gardner with the bases loaded, the Astros pounced on Masahiro Tanaka in the third inning and didn’t relinquish the lead from that point on.
To start, Springer jumped on a 86 mph splitter from Tanaka in the top of the third inning, sending the 1-0 pitch to the left field stands that gave the Astros a 3-1 lead. It was a three-run home run that went into the record books as Springer stamped his 13th career postseason home run – a Houston Astros postseason record.
Carlos Correa hailed a three-run home run to expand the Astros lead by five. It was Correa’s second home run against the Yankees in the ALCS, extending his career RBI total in the postseason to 30 – an Astros franchise record. Correa also became the youngest player to hit 10 home runs in the postseason at 25 years and 25 days old, passing Albert Pujols and Mickey Mantle on the list.
“I grew up a huge fan of Albert Pujols,” Correa said when asked what names stood out to him when he read the list of players he’d passed. “I even wear No.5 all the way growing up… I’m a big fan of Pujols and to see what he did at a younger age, it means a lot, very humbling.”
Correa has struggled in the 2019 postseason, he entered the night hitting .167 with two hits in 24 at-bats, but has been able to contribute with two gut wrenching home runs against a Yankees pitching staff that has gone unrecognizable in Games 2 through 4.
“It’s been a tough year for me, I went through a lot,” Correa noted, reflecting on his two biggest home runs in the ALCS. “And then come here in the postseason and be able to contribute to my team. It means everything”
Gary Sánchez, who has received flak for not producing hits in the postseason, struck out with the bases loaded in the first inning, dismissing an opportunity for the Yankees to extend a larger lead early on. However, Sánchez saved himself from falling deeper into a postseason slump by crushing a fastball from Josh James to slash the Yankees deficit to three in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“These at-bats I’ve been battling, trying to find my way,” Sánchez said on his two-run home run through interpreter Marlon Abreu. “I know I put my head down, never lost confidence in myself, and able to put a good swing on that ball. I’m hoping this is it, this is what gets me back on track. Looking forward to tomorrow.”
There were two opportunities for the Yankees to maximize with runners-in-scoring position but failed to score with a bases loaded opportunity in the bottom of the fifth inning and one out. Astros right-handed pitcher Ryan Pressly didn’t sway in his efforts to relieve Greinke and struck out Gleyber Torres and Edwin Encarnación to end an immense threat that could have changed the course of the game for the Bombers.
The Yankees hopes fall into the hands of the baseball gods, as they brace themselves to play in an elimination game Friday night at Yankee Stadium. James Paxton will be given the opportunity to slow down the Astros’ striving offense, as Houston hopes to clinch the American League Pennant for the second time in three years.
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