In the two games here, both 2-1 defeats, they managed just one run in 16 innings against the Astros’ starting pitchers: Dallas Keuchel and Verlander.
Though Verlander had been cuffed around in two trips to the World Series with Detroit, he has an extensive record of dominating performances in big October moments — including Game 5 shutouts of the Oakland A’s that decided two division series. And he has been especially tough on the Yankees in the postseason, having beaten them three times before Saturday.
He allowed only one run on Saturday, on a two-out double by Todd Frazier in the fifth.
Yankees starter Luis Severino left after four innings after taking a line drive off the left wrist on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Severino picked the ball up and threw to first for the final out of the inning, but he did not return. The Yankees declined to say during the game whether Severino was removed because of an injury.
The Astros, who led baseball in slugging percentage all while being the hardest team to strike out, continued to put the ball in play, but with few results. They did not strike out against Severino, whose 230 regular-season strikeouts were the sixth most in baseball.
Once Severino left early, the Yankees put the game in the hands of their capable bullpen. Tommy Kahnle preserved the score with a scoreless fifth and six before giving way to David Robertson, who pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth. The only real trouble spot came in the seventh, when Gurriel hit a two-out double, but Robertson retired Carlos Beltran on a smash into the teeth of the shift.
The series is but two games old and the Astros’ outfield defense has put its stamp on each game. After left fielder Marwin Gonzalez threw out Greg Bird at the plate in Game 1, it was right fielder Josh Reddick’s turn to shine.
With one out in the third inning, he made a leaping catch at the wall to steal an extra-base hit — and possibly even a home run — away from Chase Headley. The play drew a standing ovation from the capacity crowd and a raised fist of appreciation from Verlander.
But Reddick was not done. The next batter, Brett Gardner, smacked a 3-2 slider into the right-fielder corner. Reddick picked up the ball barehanded after it bounced off the wall and whipped a strike to Correa, the shortstop, on the edge of the outfield grass. Correa wheeled and fired a one-hop throw to third baseman Alex Bregman, who gathered it on the home-plate side of third base and slapped a tag on Gardner, who slid headfirst to the outside of the bag.
Third-base umpire Jerry Meals, hovering over the bag, signaled safe. But Bregman immediately pointed to the Astros’ dugout to challenge the call.
As Manager A. J. Hinch did, the Astros began heading toward their dugout. Gardner did the same. A moment later, confirmation came — Gardner was out.
The Astros took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Correa drove a 2-2 fastball from Severino to right field. Aaron Judge raced toward the wall, but the first glove the ball hit belonged to Carson Riley, a 12-year-old boy sitting in the first row of the right-field seats.
The play evoked a memorable moment in Yankees playoff history, when Jeffrey Maier, then 12, reached over the right-field wall at Yankee Stadium trying to catch a ball hit by Derek Jeter in Game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series. Despite the protests of Baltimore right fielder Tony Tarasco, who pleaded for fan interference, umpire Rich Garcia ruled it a home run, which tied the score. The Yankees won the game in 11 innings and went on to win the series.
The Yankees asked for a crew chief review, but the ball was ruled to have cleared the wall before it hit the boy’s glove. And unlike Tarasco, who was braced at the wall to leap for Jeter’s drive, Judge was trying to catch up to Correa’s drive as it reached the stands.
The delay made for some anxious moments — and not just in both dugouts.
Riley, sitting with his parents, Amanda and Mike, was asked if he was nervous.
“Yes,” he said.
“That I reached over and they were going to overturn it,” he said.
How would that have made you feel?
“Bad,” he said.
Riley, whose favorite player is Altuve, said he was not quite sure what he would do with the ball, but it was one of five he had accumulated on the day. Three were collected in batting practice and another was tossed to him between innings by none other than Judge.
Mike Riley, who traveled with his family from Liberty Hill, Tex., north of Austin, for the two games, shrugged off comparisons to Maier.
“I’m just excited for him,” he said. “I thought it was cool. All he wanted is a ball.”
The Yankees, though, got even an inning later, when Aaron Hicks doubled into the left-center gap with two outs, and two pitches later came home when Frazier drove a ball to the wall in the same alley. The ball got stuck in the chain-link fence, and though Frazier circled the bases, he was sent back to second with a ground-rule double. Verlander escaped more damage when he retired Headley on a full-count liner directly at center fielder George Springer.
It was all the Yankees could muster on offense, and for the second day it was not enough.
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