Astros Take Back Lead From Yankees: Live Updates
Oct. 17, 2019, 9:15 p.m. ET
George Springer hit a three-run home run off Masahiro Tanaka to give Houston its first lead of the night in the third inning. Yankees 1, Astros 3.
The second inning saw both Masahiro Tanaka and Zack Greinke improve their efficiency from the first inning, and the score remained 1-0 Yankees.
Tanaka retired the leadoff batter, Yuli Gurriel, on a liner to center and got Yordan Alvarez to ground out on a sharply hit ball to second - with Alvarez very nearly beating the slow throw to first from Gleyber Torres. Tanaka then struck out Carlos Correa to complete the 1-2-3 inning.
Greinke needed one pitch to get Gio Urshela to pop out to short, but he allowed a one-out single to left from Didi Gregorius. D.J. LeMahieu hit a soft chopper to first, slow enough that Gurriel had no play at second and settled for just one out at first. That brought Aaron Judge up with a runner on second and two outs, but Greinke was able to strike him out to end the threat.
The Yankees got Gerrit Cole to tie his career high with five walks in Game 3, and they already have Zack Greinke up to three after one inning of Game 4. The third forced in a run home, giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
The top half of the inning was quiet. After retiring George Springer on a liner to short and Jose Altuve on a soft fly to right, Masahiro Tanaka walked Michael Brantley. Just two pitches later, he was out of the inning thanks to Alex Bregman popping out to short.
In the bottom half of the inning, D.J. LeMahieu drew a leadoff walk before Aaron Judge hit a sharp grounder to short that Carlos Correa was able to flip to second for an out. The Yankees' surprise No. 3 hitter, Aaron Hicks, hit a bloop to shallow right that baffled Houston's defense, falling to the ground just out of Correa's reach, putting runners at first and second.
Gleyber Torres did Greinke a favor, popping out to first on the first pitch he saw, but then Greinke suddenly could not throw a strike. He walked Edwin Encarnacion to load the bases and then sent a run home with a four-pitch walk to Brett Gardner.
Greinke got out of the inning by striking out Gary Sanchez, but the 28-pitch inning was certainly not what the former Cy Young Award winner was hoping for.
1. D.J. LeMahieu 1B
2. Aaron Judge RF
3. Aaron Hicks CF
4. Gleyber Torres 2B
5. Edwin Encarnacion DH
6. Brett Gardner LF
7. Gary Sanchez C
8. Gio Urshela 3B
9. Didi Gregorius SS
Masahiro Tanaka PAstros
1. George Springer CF
2. Jose Altuve 2B
3. Michael Brantley LF
4. Alex Bregman 3B
5. Yuli Gurriel 1B
6. Yordan Alvarez DH
7. Carlos Correa SS
8. Robinson Chirinos C
9. Josh Reddick RF
Zack Greinke P
A full day of rain in New York on Wednesday pushed Game 4 back by one day, scrambling the pitching situation for both clubhouses. The Yankees and Astros both were most likely set to use a bullpen day on Wednesday, with their top starters low on rest. But with the extra day in between games, the Yankees will start Masahiro Tanaka and the Astros will send out Zack Greinke.
It's a rematch of Game 1, when Tanaka outdueled Greinke. Both starters lasted six innings, with Tanaka holding the Astros to one hit and no runs, while Greinke gave up seven hits and three runs in an eventual 7-0 Yankees win. The Yankees will hope Tanaka can again eat up innings tonight, as the prospect of four games in four days (if the series goes to seven games) complicates their heavy reliance on the bullpen.
The Yankees could desperately use a win tonight - not just to avoid a three-games-to-one deficit in the series, but because Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are looming in Game 5 and a potential Game 6. Verlander held the Yankees to five hits and two runs over six and two-thirds innings in the Astros' 11-inning Game 2 win, and Cole held them scoreless over seven innings in an impressive Game 3 performance.
The Astros have dealt with accusations of sign-stealing in the past - and they returned after Houston seemed to avoid Luis Severino's breaking pitches in Game 3 - but Manager A.J. Hinch brushed off the growing suspicion that his team seemed almost too locked in on Yankees pitchers like James Paxton and Severino. Hinch wrote off the entire issue as a case of pitch-tipping rather than sign-stealing. "If you don't want us to know the pitch is coming," Hinch said on Thursday, "don't do something that demonstrates what pitch you're going to pitch or what you're going to throw."
Yankees Manager Aaron Boone also played down the matter on Thursday, saying his pitchers were trying to avoid tipping their pitches as they had all year. "It's just part of something we do all season long," he said. "We're confident that we're buttoned up in a lot of ways and I'm not really - I really don't think it's much of an issue."
Adam Ottavino, a reliever known for his outstanding slider, was signed by the Yankees last off-season for $9 million a year despite the team already having pitchers who could reasonably be considered seventh- (Zack Britton), eighth- (Dellin Betances) and ninth-inning (Aroldis Chapman) relievers. Ottavino was seemingly the luxury of luxuries, as he had a 1.90 E.R.A. in 73 appearances during the 2019 regular season, and he easily stepped into the gap created by an injury to Betances.
Over the last two games, however, he has become a liability. He has faced six batters between the two appearances and he has only recorded one out while being charged with three earned runs. Considering the Yankees' heavy usage of their bullpen, Ottavino will need to figure out things quickly, as it's an all-hands-on-deck situation for the remainder of the series.
Giancarlo Stanton, who has not played since straining his right quadriceps in Game 1, will not be in the starting lineup Thursday night but will be available off the bench as a pinch-hitter, Manager Aaron Boone said. Considering the woeful offensive contributions in this series from Gary Sanchez (.154 on-base-plus-slugging percentage), Didi Gregorius (.167), Brett Gardner (.308) and Edwin Encarnacion (.381), the Yankees could really use Stanton's bat as soon as possible to combat Houston's top-tier pitching.
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