Can the New York Yankees mount consecutive playoff series comeback after trailing two games to none? The Bronx Bombers took the first step on Monday, topping the Houston Astros 8-1 in game three of the American League Championship Series.
The Yankees rallied from down 2-0 to beat the Cleveland Indians in the AL Division Series, and now thanks to CC Sabathia, Aaron Judge and Co., New York are right back in the series with two more games at Yankee Stadium, where they had the AL's best home record.
Teams that lose the first two games of a best-of-seven series come back to win only 16.2 percent of the time, but if the Yankees' bats can get hot like in game three, look out.
JUDGE ENJOYS BREAKOUT GAME
Did Judge's outfield collision finally wake him up? Only half-joking, but Judge made fans forget about the rest of his playoff struggles after robbing Astros' Yuli Gurriel of a hit when he leapt and caught a line drive before colliding with the right-field wall in the fourth inning. In the bottom half of the inning, Judge came to the plate owning a dismal four-for-31 batting line with 20 strikeouts this postseason, the most before the World Series all-time.
The slugger broke out of his slump with a three-run homer to give the Yankees an 8-0 lead but he was not done. Following his first homer since the wildcard game, Judge again flashed his leather in the fifth, robbing Cameron Maybin of a hit with a diving grab. Judge was not the only one to end a slump. Chase Headley's RBI hit was the first by a Yankees designated hitter this postseason.
SABATHIA IS YANKEES' GO-TO PITCHER
When the Yankees need a win, they turn to the veteran southpaw. Entering Monday's game, Sabathia was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 10 starts following Yankees defeats. He was solid in game five of the ALDS and was dependable again on Monday, spinning six shutout innings with three hits allowed and five strikeouts. Sabathia did walk four, including two in the third inning that loaded the bases for the Astros in a then three-run game. But Sabathia was able to get Carlos Correa to pop out on a fastball to end the inning en route to a historic outing. At 37 years and 87-days-old, Sabathia became the oldest pitcher with six scoreless innings in the postseason since Pedro Martínez in 2009 NLCS game two.
FRAZIER SINGLE-HANDEDLY LIFTS YANKEES TO EARLY LEAD
Pun intended. The Yankees slugger took advantage of his power and short porch in right field to give New York a 3-0 lead in the second inning with an opposite-field home run. Frazier, who entered with a .389 average and five extra-base hits off Morton, somehow connected on a low-and-away fastball with a reaching swing, managing to hit the ball just 307 feet for the homer despite his right hand coming off the bat.
The home run was the last of three surprising two-out hits for the Yankees in the second inning. Starling Castro started the two-out rally with a soft single and Aaron Hicks moved him to second with another soft bloop single. It may not have been pretty but the struggling Yankees offence will take any production they can get.
ASTROS AT YANKEES
Astros manager A.J. Hinch has yet to name a starter for Tuesday's game four and said it was unlikely he would start ace Dallas Keuchel. The Yankees are turning to Sonny Gray, who owns a 5.56 ERA at home with his new team since coming to New York at the trade deadline.