Yankees keep World Series hopes alive with game five win

By Sports Desk October 18, 2019

The New York Yankees forced game six on Friday after defeating Houston Astros 4-1 in game five of the American League Championship Series.

A pair of early home runs and impressive starting pitching from James Paxton helped to get the job done.

Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning on a night where all five runs came in the team's opening frame.

The Astros will have to defend home turf in an attempt to avoid game seven, with one win sending them to the World Series. New York must win the last two games to earn a berth in the Fall Classic.


New York found quality pitching when it mattered most

The Yankees have made it a point to utilise a host of pitchers in the ALCS, but they got a great performance from starter James Paxton and a trio of relievers in a critical game that could've ended their season. Paxton gave up four hits and one earned run in six innings of work, notching nine strikeouts. Then Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman combined to give up one hit for the remainder of the contest once Paxton was taken out.

The Astros' five hits in the contest were their second-lowest total in the series after being held to just three in their game one loss.

The stage wasn't too big for Aaron Hicks

Aaron Hicks was an unlikely hero for the Yankees on Friday. Although the outfielder was initially ruled out for the season in August after suffering a flexor strain in his elbow, he returned from a two-month hiatus to face Houston and help his team with its World Series push. He blasted a three-run homer off the foul pole in the first inning and that made all the difference.

New York scored all four of its runs in the first inning before going on a scoring drought, but it didn't matter as the Astros experienced a drought of their own. Now the Yankees will likely benefit from a bullpen game on Saturday, and there will be ample opportunity for other players to unexpectedly tee off without facing the best of Houston's starters.

Justin Verlander continues to be plagued by home runs

Justin Verlander gave up a career-high 36 home runs in 2019 and that trend has followed him into the post-season. Even though Hicks' home run nearly hooked right of the foul pole, DJ LeMahieu also hit a solo homer and those were the decisive moments in the game. Verlander has given up 10 runs and five home runs in his last three appearances.

Verlander rebounded tremendously from his poor start in his seven-inning outing, tallying nine strikeouts, but the offense couldn't get flowing and now Houston faces a difficult situation. The Astros' trio of starters has been heralded as the best in MLB, but Gerrit Cole won't be ready to go on short rest in game six.

New York has coasted on power hitting all season long and now they can take advantage of not having to face elite starters as they look to force game seven.

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