I have long said that October is the best month to be a sports fan. College football and the NFL are both in full swing; the NHL season is starting up again, and the NBA is right around the corner. But my favorite season of all takes center stage: playoff baseball.
Anything can happen in October. Crazy things happen in October. The stakes are higher; the fans are louder, and the lights are brighter. Playoff baseball truly is the best.
Sunday night, I sat down on my living room couch until 1 a.m. with two of my roommates, neither of whom are overly big fans. Together, we watched the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros in the second game of the American League Championship Series.
I watched as they were both captivated by the excitement and energy of a game that featured stellar pitching, defense, lead changes, strategic managerial decisions and an extra-innings, walk-off home run by Astros shortstop Carlos Correa.
The series moves back east to the Bronx for an all-important game three on Tuesday — a game which I believe will decide the series.
After the Yankees’ dominant win in game one on the road in Houston, which featured the Yankees’ offense putting up seven runs on the Astros vaunted pitching staff, it looked like the Yankees were going to run away with the series.
But last night, the Astros bounced back in a major way, making a strong statement that this series is far from over. After game two, it’s looking like this series is going to be one for the ages.
The last time the Yankees and the Astros faced each other in the postseason was during the 2017 ALCS where home-field advantage proved to be the deciding factor in the series. The Astros won the series in seven games and would end up being crowned World Series Champions just over a week later. The Astros won games one, two, six and seven at home, while the Yankees won games three, four and five at home in the Bronx.
The 2019 ALCS has already broken this trend as the two powerhouse teams, both of which won over 100 games this season, split the first two games of the series.
Game three features one of the best pitching matchups anyone will see throughout the entire postseason. Gerrit Cole, who had one of the greatest seasons ever and is a big reason why the Astros won 107 games this season, will get the nod for the Astros on Tuesday afternoon. Cole posted 20 wins with a 2.50 ERA and a league-leading 326 strikeouts to top it all off.
The Yankees will send Luis Severino, its ace, to the mound in an attempt to steal this game from the Astros. Severino missed the vast majority of the season with a shoulder injury but returned to the pitching staff in September. Severino, like Cole, is one of the best pitchers in the game when healthy.
The Astros have all the momentum on its side following a decisive win in game two and are throwing its best pitcher in game three.
If the Yankees win at home, the entire complexion of the series will change. The Yankees would be two wins away from advancing to the World Series with both games four and five being played on its home field. The Astros will try to do everything in its power to make sure the series returns to Houston.
Game three is a must-win game for both teams. If the Astros lose game three, the team will have to start Zack Greinke in game four at Yankee Stadium after he gave up three runs to the Yankees in the game one loss Saturday.
For game five Wednesday, the Astros will be throwing Justin Verlander, who is coming off a 109-pitch masterpiece Sunday night in game two. This may seem like an advantage as Verlander has been a thorn in the Yankees' side for years. But historically, Verlander has not been nearly as effective when he pitches with only three days of rest instead of four or five.
The pressure is on the Astros to win game three in New York. If the Astros lose game three, the Yankees will win the ALCS in five games. If Houston wins game three, the series will go to either six or seven games, and it may spell the end to a remarkable season for the New York Yankees.
October baseball sure is something special.
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