Masahiro Tanaka shuts down the Astros lineup long enough for the Bronx Bombers to go to work in a 7-0 Yankees victory in Game 1 of the ALCS
While the rest of the baseball world was fawning over the Houston Astros pitching staff, the New York Yankees reminded everyone in Game 1 of the ALCS, “Hey, don’t forget about us.”
Masahiro Tanaka outdueled Astros starter Zack Greinke on Saturday at Minute Maid Park as the Yankees beat the Astros 7-0 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Tanaka went six shutout innings, surrendering only a single to Kyle Tucker with one out in the third inning and striking out four.
Tanaka doesn’t get the praise that the Astros trio of Greinke, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole get, but the Japanese star is quickly making himself into a Yankees postseason legend. In his last six postseason starts dating back to 2017, he’s 4-1 with a 1.00 ERA. He’s allowed two earned runs in 19 innings over his past three postseason games against Houston. Tanaka joined former Yankee Orlando Hernandez as the only pitchers to begin their postseason career with seven straight starts of at least five innings while giving up two or fewer runs.
Greinke was also solid for three innings on Saturday, but beginning in the fourth the Yankees, who hit a franchise-record 306 home runs in the regular season, started to show what they can do. Gleyber Torres opened the scoring with a double to left, scoring DJ LeMahieu. He then homered off Greinke in the sixth. Giancarlo Stanton hit an opposite-field home run in the sixth. Gio Urshela added the third Yankees homer in the ninth.
In a lineup full of stars, it was Torres who shined brightest in Game 1. The 22-year-old drove in five of the seven Yankees runs, becoming only the third player with five RBI in a postseason game before turning 23, joining Andruw Jones and Addison Russell. He joins Tony Kubek and Mickey Mantle as the only Yankees in their long postseason history with at least four RBI and a home run at the age of 22 or younger.
The Astros, coming off a five-game series against the Rays where they saw a steady stream of 100 m.p.h. fastballs, were completely fouled by Tanaka’s masterful precision. They managed only three hits off Yankees pitchers and were shutout for the first time in more than three months.
They still have Verlander and Cole lined up to pitch the next two games. But on Saturday, at least, it was the Yankees who looked like the pitching staff opponents should fear.