Okay, well, Justin Verlander had a rough four minutes and the Astros continued to Not Hit All That Much and dug themselves into such a hole that they still maintain a series lead and have both games at home.
*FanGraphs still gives the Astros a 77-23 edge in the series, though they have their matchups switched around. FiveThirtyEight has it 81-19 Houston in the series. MLB.com's Do-Hyoung Park:
In all best-of-seven postseason series, teams holding a 3-2 lead have gone on to win 72 of 103 times (70%). In series with the current 2-3-2 format, clubs holding a 3-2 lead and heading home for Games 6 and 7 have gone on to win 34 of 45 times (76%).
*Verlander's 1st Inning: 4H/4ER, 2K:0BB, 29 pitches
Verlander, Innings 2-7: 1H/0ER, 7K:0BB, 76 pitches.
The 1st was one of the worst innings of Justin Verlander's career. It was the first time he'd allowed four 1st Inning runs since August 2014. It was the first time in his postseason career he'd allowed 2HR in the 1st inning. DJ LeMahieu joins Coco Crisp as the only players to leadoff a postseason game against Verlander with a home run. In 34 starts, Verlander had allowed 4ER just six times. He had not allowed four runs in an inning in his career as an Astro prior to last night. The most runs he had allowed in an inning in the 2019 regular season was three (twice, June 18 at Cincinnati; July 5 to Anaheim.). And Hicks' three-run home run clanked off the freaking foul pole.
If anything, Verlander's outing saved the bullpen for what will be a Bullpen Game, saving a potential Cole/Severino matchup for Game 7. Verlander:
I thought I could have made some better pitches. I had some opportunities. I got the strikeout and then had Hicks in the hole and wasn't able to execute anything. I got ahead of him early and had opportunities to get a strikeout or a weak fly ball. I let him back into the count and hung the slider, 3-2.
Yep, that's pretty much how it went. Chirinos, showing why he's handled this pitching staff so well:
[Verlander] didn't miss as much after the first inning. I think he was missing up, up with his fastball, and the slider was backing up. I feel like the game was fast in the first inning. I should have called timeout and talked to him. That was my fault.
*The Athletic's Marc Carig has three quick observations on ALCS G5.
*James Paxton, career vs. Houston (postseason included):
89IP, 83H/31ER, 93K:30BB, 3.13 ERA / 1.27 WHIP.
*The Astros hit nine balls 95mph+ off the bat last night. They got three singles, three lineouts, two flyouts, and a force out. Chirinos' bomb in the 6th had an expected batting average of .610. At some point, surely, that luck has to turn around.
*Astros w/RISP: 0x6. In the 2019 postseason, the Astros are 9x68 w/RISP and have left 73 men on base through five games. You don't need me to tell you that this is Unacceptable.
*Yordan Alvarez: 0x4, 3K:0BB. In 10 postseason games, Yordan is "hitting" .184/.244/.263, 17K:3BB. In the ALCS: .053/.143/.053. Brantley, on Alvarez:
Everybody believes in that young man. He carried us throughout the season. He had quality at-bats, and everything is going to be just fine with him.
Yordan will DH and hit 7th in tonight's game. I smell a big game from him. Could just be this sinus infection, though.
We are in the driver's seat and we are going back to Houston, but that's a great ballclub. [New York] is stacked. They gave me great at-bats in Houston and they continue to do so tonight....These boys are not going to lay down for us, and we have to go and take care of business at home.
As you know, it's baseball and we're facing really good pitching. I think we do a good job of staying in the zone tomorrow and passing the torch to the next guy, we'll be successful.
*Jose Urquidy said he's comfortable in whatever situation he's put in, but would prefer to start Game 6.
*SI's Tom Verducci: The Yankees' star-studded bullpen has them on the brink of collapse.
Seriously, nobody is even hot; the team is just that good. Granted, you can get scorched just walking past Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander, but otherwise the Astros have methodically pressured the Yankees, who can't match their depth.
*Yahoo's Hannah Keyser: On the Yankees' visiting team's bullpen and the fans who torment it.
*NY Times: MLB is pushing for a massive overhaul of the Minor-Leagues.
*FanGraphs' Ben Clemens: So You Wanna Buy A Baseball Team.
*A Musical Selection: