The 2017 American League Championship Series will go the distance after Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros shut down the New York Yankees to capture a 7-1 win in Game 6 on Friday night at Minute Maid Field.
While it wasn't quite a redux of his masterful nine-inning performance in Game 2, Verlander was brilliant with the Astros facing elimination.
Over the course of seven scoreless innings, Verlander scattered five hits and registered eight strikeouts to baffle a group of Yankee hitters that had hit its stride back in the Bronx.
Verlander threw 71 percent of his pitches for strikes, including a curveball to Todd Frazier that encapsulated the Yankees' struggles against the 2011 AL MVP:
Just pure filth. #ALCS https://t.co/RRGbiomCeA2017-10-21 01:44:14
The Astros offense wasn't nearly as electric—its first hit of the night came with two out in the bottom of the fourth inning—but a jolt in the fifth inning produced a breakthrough against Luis Severino (4.2 IP, three strikeouts, three earned runs).
Brian McCann got the party started with a double to deep right field to score Alex Bregman, and Jose Altuve snapped an 0-for-12 slump three batters later when he laced a two-run single to left, as Fox Sports MLB documented:
FOX Sports: MLB @MLBONFOX
JOSE ALTUVE DELIVERS! The @astros take the 3-0 lead in the 5th. https://t.co/xT0dWHQD7Z2017-10-21 01:47:17
The Yankees threatened with two on and no out in the top of the seventh for their best opportunity of the night, but the opportunity proved fleeting.
After Verlander got Aaron Hicks to strike out swinging, Todd Frazier smoked a fastball to deep center field that George Springer plucked out of the air:
FOX Sports: MLB @MLBONFOX
SUPER SPRINGER! WHAT A CATCH! https://t.co/QXtKBIPF7j2017-10-21 02:32:33
According to MLB.com's Andrew Simon, Statcast suggested Frazier hit his blast hard enough to leave most parks:
Andrew Simon @AndrewSimonMLB
Based on exit velo and launch angle, the ball that Frazier hit is a HR 72% of the time, per @statcast. https://t.co/RHTUySUkwc2017-10-21 02:33:31
Verlander worked out of the jam one batter later, at which point MLB Network's Jon Morosi relayed a key stat that underscored his dominance:
Jon Morosi @jonmorosi
This is Justin Verlander’s 10th postseason start of 7+ IP since 2010 — the most in @MLB over that span. @MLBNetwork @astros2017-10-21 02:39:46
The Yankees got on the board in the eighth when Aaron Judge mashed a solo home run off Brad Peacock, but Altuve countered with a jack of his own in the bottom half of the inning to restore order and fuel a hit parade that allowed the Astros to quell concerns of an implosion once and for all.
Now headed for Game 7, the Astros will try to complete their comeback Saturday evening (8:08 p.m. ET, FS1) in Houston against Yankees starter CC Sabathia—who went six strong with five strikeouts in an 8-1 Game 3 win.
The Astros, meanwhile, will roll with Game 3 starter Charlie Morton on normal rest as opposed to rushing Lance McCullers back out.