Dallas Keuchel's Dominant Performance Gives Astros 1-0 ALCS Lead over Yankees

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistOctober 14, 2017

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 13:  Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the New York Yankees during game one of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 13, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Houston Astros defeated the New York Yankees 2-1 in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night at Minute Maid Park behind a gem from starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel

In seven scoreless innings, Keuchel scattered four hits and struck out 10 before closer Ken Giles, who came on for five outs, surrendered a towering solo blast to Greg Bird in the top of the ninth inning.

According to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, Keuchel joined Nolan Ryan and Mike Scott as the only pitchers in franchise history to tally at least 10 punchouts in a postseason game.          

It was more of the same for the southpaw, who has owned the Yankees since his major league debut in 2012. Specifically, the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner entered Friday's showdown 4-2 with a 1.41 ERA and 45 strikeouts and six walks in 44.2 regular-season innings against the Bronx Bombers. 

MLB.com's Andrew Simon noted Keuchel's slider was particularly nasty in the opening tilt:  

With Keuchel in complete control, the Astros didn't need much run support to feel comfortable about their chances. That was good because Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka was rather sharp in his own right. 

Over six innings, Tanaka allowed four hits and recorded three strikeouts. 

However, the right-hander encountered trouble in the bottom of the fourth inning when Jose Altuve (3-for-4) followed an infield single by stealing second base, which opened the door for Carlos Correa to drive him home with a base knock through the left side, as Fox Sports MLB documented: 

Two batters later, Yuli Gurriel followed Correa's lead and pushed the shortstop across the plate to give Houston a 2-0 lead. 

The Yankees had a chance to counter when they had two runners on with no outs in the fifth inning, but left fielder Marwin Gonzalez denied Bird's attempt to scurry home off an Aaron Judge single with a laser, via MLB on Twitter: 

New York put two on again in the top of the eighth inning, which set the stage for Didi Gregorius to play hero once more. But unlike Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians, the pinstriped shortstop was denied as Giles set him down swinging to squash the threat. 

The Yankees crept closer in the ninth thanks to Bird's moonshot, but the rally stopped there. 

The Baby Bombers will now turn their attention to Saturday's Game 2 (4:08 p.m. ET, Fox) in hopes of knotting the series at one win apiece before the scene shifts to the Bronx for Game 3 on Monday. 

But in order to do so, the Yankees will need their bats to come alive against Justin Verlander and hope starter Luis Severino avoids the form that hounded him in his disastrous wild-card outing against the Minnesota Twins. 

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