HOUSTON - For the first time in the ALCS, the highest scoring offense in baseball looked like the highest scoring offense in baseball in Game 6 on Friday night. The Astros, thanks largely to Jose Altuve, scored seven runs in the win over the Yankees (HOU 7, NYY 1) after scoring nine runs total in Games 1-5. Game 7 is Saturday night.
"Obviously," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch after Game 6,"we've been waiting for the big for a couple of games."
That big hit came in the fifth inning, when Yankees starter Luis Severino ran into a wall and walked three batters in the inning. Brian McCann, Severino's former batterymate in New York, fell behind in the count 0-2 before hooking an outside fastball to right field for an RBI ground rule double.
"It was nice to get a big hit. It didn't matter who it was," McCann said. "I came up in plenty of spots this postseason and didn't come through. To get that hit was big."
Altuve followed with a two-run single to left, ending Severino's night and giving the Astros a 3-0 lead. It wasn't until the eighth inning, after an Aaron Judge solo home run got the Yankees to within 3-1, that Houston broke the game open.
Homer, double, single, double went the Astros against Yankees ace setup man David Robertson, who didn't retire a batter and looked very much like a worn down reliever who'd thrown 11 innings in his team's first 11 postseason games. That 3-1 lead swelled to 7-1, and the Astros offense finally started to look like itself.
"One after another. One of our characteristics of our good offense is when we have one after another good at-bats and we continue to come at you," Hinch added. "Any coach cross the league ... that talk to us during the season talk about how we don't stop coming at you. That inning was an example of us near our best."
The Astros, as a team, went into Game 6 hitting .147/.234/.213 in the ALCS. Altuve went hitless in Games 3-5 in New York before picking up the two-run single and solo homer in Game 6. Carlos Correa went 2 for 12 in Games 3-5 before going 2 for 4 in Game 6. McCann? He was 0 for the postseason before his double broke the scoreless tie.
Beyond the runs scored, the Astros saw their most important hitters snap out of their recent funks in Game 6, and just in time for the decisive Game 7. There was basically no path to the AL pennant that included Altuve and Correa not contributing offensively. At some point McCann will have to chip in. That all happened in Game 6, and not a moment too soon.
"I know this offense is just a monster," said Justin Verlander, the hero in Game 6. "It's a sleeping giant ... There was no question these guys were doing to break out, it was just a matter of time."
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