The Houston Astros took Game 1 of the American League Championship Series from the New York Yankees by a 2-1 score for a 1-0 series lead.
Houston starter Dallas Keuchel once again dominated the New York lineup, pitching seven shutout innings while striking out ten. He explained why he has had so much success against the Yankees: "I think it's just pitch execution, and it's just been there more times than it hasn't against the Yankees".
Masahiro Tanaka pitched effectively for the Yankees, tossing six innings while giving up two runs, fanning three.
The only offense in the game for the Astros came in the bottom of the fourth on RBI singles by Yuli Gurriel and Carlos Correa. Greg Bird homered in the seventh for the only New York run on the night.
"What started out as an incredibly tight pitchers' duel, we felt like we had a huge lead at 2-0, even though we know it's very, very small," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. "So not a surprise that Jose is involved and doing instinctual things on the bases, and also not a surprise that Dallas responded by continuing to pitch well."
Keuchel stifles Yankees once again
Keuchel was dominant from the beginning, working around a one-out walk to Aaron Judge in the top of the first while striking out two.
Brett Gardner singled with two outs in the top of the third only to see Judge strike out for the 17th time this postseason.
Again, the Yankees were able to scratch out a single in the top of the fourth only to see Keuchel retire Aaron Hicks on a harmless fly ball to end the inning.
Astros get all the offense they need
Tanaka was cruising along, allowing a leadoff walk to George Springer in the bottom of the first before retiring ten straight hitters.
After Tanaka retired Josh Reddick to start the bottom of the fourth, Houston's offense went to work. Jose Altuve singled, stole second and scored on Correa's RBI single to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.
After the shortsop advanced to second on a groundout, he'd come around to score on Gurriel's run-scoring hit to double the Houston lead.
Gonzalez makes key play in the game
The Yankees best chance to score came in the top of the fifth. Bird singled to lead off the inning. Matt Holliday, making his first appearance in the playoffs, hit a ground ball that Altuve booted to put runners on first and second.
After retiring Todd Frazier on a lineout to center and Gardner on a strikeout, Judge singled to left, but Marwin Gonzalez nailed Bird at home plate for the final out of the inning.
"That was their best moment in the game, (I needed) to stop the momentum," the Houston left fielder said. "All I was thinking was to go get the ball as fast as I could."
"We had a shot," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "If Bird's safe maybe we really get to him in that inning."
The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth when Altuve singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Tanaka, but the righty struck out Correa and retired Gonzalez on a grounder to second to end the threat.
Meanwhile, Keuchel retired New York in order in the top of the sixth and seventh, fanning Bird for the second out in the seventh for his tenth and final strikeout.
Astros bullpen shuts the door
Chris Devenski relieved Keuchel in the top of the eighth and after issuing a one-out walk to Gardner, Astros manager A.J. Hinch summoned closer Ken Giles.
A wild pitch advanced Gardner to second and Gary Sanchez singled with two outs. With the tying run on base, Giles struck out Didi Gregorius to preserve the Astros two-run lead.
After Giles struck out Castro and Hicks to lead off the top of the ninth, Bird belted his third home run of the postseason to cut the Houston lead in half before the Houston closer struck out pinch-hitter Jacoby Ellsbury to end the game and give the Astros the series lead.
The Yankees will try to even up the series in Game 2 with Luis Severino on the mound. After a disastrous start in the AL Wild Card game in which the Yankees ace lasted just a third of an inning, he rebounded with a solid start in Game 4 of the Division Series against the Cleveland Indians.
Justin Verlander will toe the rubber for Houston, looking to continue his masterful run in an Astros uniform. After winning all five of his regular season starts with the Astros, he was the winning pitcher in Games 2 and 4 of the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox.
First pitch is scheduled for 4:08 Eastern time and will be televised on FOX.