CC Sabathia, Yankees Crush Astros in Game 3 of ALCS as Aaron Judge Homers

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistOctober 17, 2017

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 16:  CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees reacts against the Houston Astros during the sixth inning in Game Three of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 16, 2017 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The comeback New York Yankees are at it again.  

After overcoming a 2-0 deficit against the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series, the Bronx Bombers earned their first win of the American League Championship Series on Monday with a commanding 8-1 victory over the Houston Astros in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium.

New York still trails the series 2-1 but has momentum on its side thanks to three-run homers from Todd Frazier and Aaron Judge and a shutdown pitching performance from CC Sabathia.

While Frazier and Judge made headlines with their power, the 37-year-old Sabathia turned back the clock by scattering three hits and four walks with five strikeouts in six scoreless innings. The six-time All-Star finished his day by overcoming a Didi Gregorius error and retiring Josh Reddick with two runners on base.

His biggest moment came in the top of the third, which was the half-inning after Frazier's blast and the first time all series New York was firmly in control. The Astros loaded the bases with two walks and a single with two outs, but Sabathia induced a harmless popout from Carlos Correa.

Monday was far from the first time Sabathia picked up his team when it needed a boost:

The southpaw was far more effective than his counterpart, who allowed seven runs and six hits in 3.2 innings. Three of the runs charged to Charlie Morton came after he exited, but his failure to escape the fourth before Judge's homer proved costly.

Frazier's homer came in the second inning after two-out singles from Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks. It wasn't a particularly poor pitch from Morton on the low-and-outside corner, but Frazier punched it the opposite way and watched it carry in the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium:

The three-run homers were business as usual for New York:

The Pinstripes played some small ball as well in the fourth before Judge blew the game wide open. Greg Bird doubled and advanced to third on Aaron Hicks' flyout and scored on Chase Headley's infield single—the first base hit for a Yankees designated hitter all playoffs.

Frazier also scored on a wild pitch from Will Harris right before Judge drilled his long ball into the left field seats, making it 8-0 and ending any realistic comeback hopes for the visitors.

The one downside for Judge came in the first when he struck out for the 20th time this postseason, which ESPN Stats and Info noted was a record before a World Series. However, he made up for it by flashing the leather with a leaping catch on Yuli Gurriel's long flyball in the fourth and a diving catch on Cameron Maybin's line drive in the fifth. 

In theory, the blowout win meant the Yankees should have had the luxury of resting some of their key bullpen pieces with the next two contests coming Tuesday and Wednesday. Adam Warren did his part with scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth, but two walks from Dellin Betances in the ninth made New York manager Joe Girardi turn to Tommy Kahnle and warm up Aroldis Chapman.

Houston pushed a lone run across in the inning with Alex Bregman's bases-loaded walk but had to settle for the moral victory of pushing the bullpen some.

The series continues with Tuesday's Game 4 at Yankee Stadium.

While future starts by the formidable one-two punch of Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel loom, the Yankees are just a single home victory away from making this a best-of-three series.

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