Breaking News
More () »

ALCS Game 1: Verlander Ks 11 to lead Astros over Yankees 4-2 in ALCS

The Houston Astros take a 1-0 series lead over the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series.

HOUSTON — Justin Verlander struck out 11 in six strong innings and Yuli Gurriel, Chas McCormick and Jeremy Peña all homered to power the Houston Astros to a 4-2 win over the New York Yankees in their AL Championship Series opener Wednesday night.

The Astros are in their sixth consecutive ALCS, looking to reach the World Series for the fourth time in that span, against a New York team in the LCS for the first time since being eliminated by Houston in 2019.


The game was tied 1-all in the sixth when Gurriel connected off reliever Clarke Schmidt on a solo shot to the seats in left field to put Houston on top. Two batters later, McCormick sent a sinker from Schmidt into right field to make it 3-1.

Verlander set a major league record with the eighth double-digit strikeout game of his postseason career and passed Clayton Kershaw (213) to become the all-time leader in strikeouts in the playoffs with 219.

Peña, whose 18th-inning home run completed a sweep of the Mariners in the ALDS, belted a homer off Frankie Montas to start the seventh and extend the lead to 4-1. Montas was pitching for the first time since Sept. 16 because of a shoulder injury that kept him off the Division Series roster.

Anthony Rizzo homered off Rafael Montero with two outs in the eighth to get the Yankees within two. Giancarlo Stanton singled before Josh Donaldson walked to spur Astros manager Dusty Baker to bring in closer Ryan Pressly.

He struck out Matt Carpenter to end the inning and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to get the four-out save.

After struggling in Game 1 of the ALDS against Seattle, Verlander looked shaky early in this one, giving up a second-inning homer to Harrison Bader to put the Yankees up 1-0. But the Astros tied it in the bottom of the inning on an RBI double by Martín Maldonado.

The Astros had a few days off after eliminating Seattle on Saturday. The Yankees dealt with a quick turnaround after winning a rain-postponed Game 5 over the Guardians at home Tuesday before heading to Houston.

They had runners at second and third with one out in the third after a double by Stanton, but Verlander struck out Donaldson and Carpenter to escape the jam.

Those were the first of six consecutive strikeouts for Verlander, which tied a postseason record. It’s the second time he’s tied the mark after also fanning six in a row in Game 3 of the 2013 ALCS while pitching for Detroit.

New York whiffed 17 times in all to only two for the Astros — the largest difference ever in a postseason game.

Verlander didn’t allow a baserunner after the third inning, retiring his last 11 in a row with nine strikeouts. When he struck out Carpenter to end the sixth, he pumped his fist and yelled before trotting off the field to a huge ovation from the mostly orange-clad home crowd.

He allowed three hits and one run in his 32nd career postseason start, 11th in a series opener. It was his first playoff win since 2019.

Peña doubled twice before his homer in the seventh to give him seven hits this postseason. The performance of the rookie, who took over for Carlos Correa at shortstop this season, has helped the Astros this October as superstar Jose Altuve has struggled.

Altuve, a three-time batting champion, went 0 for 3 with a walk to fall to 0 for 19 this postseason.

Stanton played left field Wednesday with Aaron Hicks out for the rest of the postseason with a sprained knee he sustained in an outfield collision Tuesday. It was Stanton’s first appearance in the field since July 21 and his rust showed early when he couldn’t grab a fly ball that Peña hit for a double with one out in the first.

New York starter Jameson Taillon walked Yordan Alvarez after that, but Aaron Judge robbed Bregman of a hit and saved at least one run and maybe more when he made a diving catch in right field for the second out of the inning.

Taillon yielded four hits and a run in 4 1/3 innings.

Judge was 0 for 4 with a strikeout after hitting his second home run of the postseason Tuesday.


Astros third base coach Gary Pettis was out Wednesday because of an illness.

First base coach Omar Lopez filled in for Pettis, and quality control coach Dan Firova coached first base.


Roger Clemens, who played for both the Yankees and Astros in a 24-year MLB career where he won seven Cy Young Awards, threw out the ceremonial first pitch Wednesday.

He stepped a couple of feet in front of the rubber before throwing a perfect strike to Houston starter Lance McCullers.

“Every time I get out there, he looks further and further (away),” the 60-year-old Clemens said. “So, I’m just glad it made it there.”

Asked for a prediction on the series, Clemens didn’t give any insight into who he’s pulling for this week.

“I think it’s going to go to seven games,” he said. “And that’s it.”


Houston’s Framber Valdez (0-0, 3.18 ERA) opposes Luis Severino (0-0, 4.76) when the series continues Thursday night. Valdez allowed four hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings of Game 2 of the ALDS but did not factor in the decision.

Severino also didn’t factor in the decision in his last start when he yielded eight hits and three runs in 5 2/3 innings in a 6-5 win by Cleveland in Game 3 of the division series.

Game updates and highlights

Houston 4, New York 2 - top of the 9th inning

Ryan Pressley remained in the game to close it out for the Astros

Houston 4, New York 2 - bottom of the 8th inning

The Astros went down in order in the eighth.

Houston 4, New York 2 - top of the 8th inning

Rafael Montero relieved Neris in the eighth inning. He got Gleyber Torres swinging for the first out of the inning. Aaron Judge struck out looking for the second out. Anthony Rizzo hit a solo homer to right to cut into the Astros' lead. Giancarlo Stanton singled to center for another two-out hit, keeping the Yankees alive. Josh Donaldson then walked, forcing Dusty Baker to make a move to closer Ryan Pressly. Pressley struck out Matt Carpenter to end the threat.

Houston 4, New York 1 - bottom of the 7th inning

Jeremy Peña led off the bottom half of the inning with a solo homer to left, giving the Astros a 4-1 lead. Yordan Alvarez struck out swinging and Alex Bregman popped out for the first two outs of the inning. Kyle Tucker's flyout to right-center ended the inning.

Houston 3, New York 1 - top of the 7th inning

Héctor Neris relieved Justin Verlander and got Harrison Bader to pop out to start the inning. Isiah Kiner-Falefa followed with a groundout to third. Neris then got Jose Trevino to strike out looking to end the inning.

Houston 3, New York 1 - bottom of the 6th inning

Yuli Gurriel led off the inning with a solo homer to left field, giving the Astros their first lead of the game. Aledmys Díaz followed with a ground out for the first out of the inning. Chas McCormick followed with a solo shot to right to double Houston's lead. Martín Maldonado grounded out and Jose Altuve struck out to end the inning.

Houston 1, New York 1 - top of the 6th inning

Giancarlo Stanton grounded out to start the inning. Justin Verlander struck out Josh Donaldson after that. It was his 10th strikeout of the night. It was also the 8th time Verlander struck out at least 10 batters in a postseason game, an MLB record. Matt Carpenter followed with a strikeout of his own to end the frame.

Houston 1, New York 1 - bottom of the 5th inning

The Astros loaded the bases with one out but Kyle Tucker grounded into a double play to keep the game even.

Houston 1, New York 1 - top of the 5th inning

Justin Verlander struck out Gleyber Torres to start the frame. It was Verlander's sixth straight strikeout, tying his own postseason record. Aaron Judge popped out for the second out and Anthony Rizzo went down swinging to end the inning.

Houston 1, New York 1 - bottom of the 4th inning

Yuli Gurriel lined out to left, Aledmys Díaz popped out to right and then Chas McCormick walked with two outs, bringing up Martín Maldonado, who grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.

Houston 1, New York 1 - top of the 4th inning

Justin Verlander struck out Harrison Bader, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jose Trevino in order to keep the game tied. In the inning, Verlander became MLB's all-time leader in postseason strikeouts.

Houston 1, New York 1 - bottom of the 3rd inning

The Astros went down in order, keeping the game 1-1.

Houston 1, New York 1 - top of the 3rd inning

Aaron Judge grounded out and then Anthony Rizzo worked a four-pitch walk. Giancarlo Stanton hit a double to right, advancing Rizzo to third. Josh Donaldson then struck out and Matt Carpenter went down looking to end the threat.

Houston 1, New York 1 - bottom of the 2nd inning

Chas McCormick delivered a two-out single up the middle and then Martín Maldonado smoked a double to right field to tie the game.

New York 1, Houston 0 - top of the 2nd inning

Justin Verlander struck out Matt Carpenter and then Harrison Bader crushed a homer to left-center, giving the Yankees the first lead in the series. Isiah Kiner-Falefa followed with a single to center.

Houston 0, New York 0 - bottom of the 1st inning

Jeremy Peña roped a double to left-center ahead of a Yordan Álvarez walk. Alex Bregman followed with a liner into right-center, but Aaron Judge laid out to make a run-saving catch. Kyle Tucker grounded out to end the inning.

Houston 0, New York 0 - top of the 1st inning

Justin Verlander started the game for the Astros and got through the first inning without allowing a hit, although he did hit Anthony Rizzo with a pitch before Giancarlo Stanton reached on a Jose Altuve error.

Pregame updates

Who to watch

Yordan Alvarez has 29 doubles, two triples, 37 home runs and 97 RBI for the Astros. Jeremy Pena is 12-for-39 with a double, a triple, three home runs and seven RBI over the past 10 games.

Anthony Rizzo has 21 doubles, a triple, 32 home runs and 75 RBI while hitting .224 for the Yankees. Aaron Judge is 7-for-34 with three home runs over the last 10 games.

Pettis out

Astros third base coach Gary Pettis is not at Minute Maid Park for Game 1 of the ALCS. The team said he was dealing with an illness.

Omar Lopez, who normally coaches first base, will replace Pettis at third.

Astros quality coach Dan Firova will coach first base.

ALCS Rosters

Houston announced its roster for the ALCS without too many changes. Outfielder Jake Myers was left off the roster and replaced by relief pitcher Seth Martinez.

The New York Yankees announced their ALCS roster. Several changes were made, including former Houston Astro Marwin Gonzalez, who is not on it.

RELATED: 'Revenge is whatever' | What Yankees players and fans are saying ahead of the ALCS

RELATED: Roger Clemens, Josh Reddick and more will be part of ALCS Game 1 at Minute Maid Park

KHOU 11 on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Before You Leave, Check This Out