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Yankees 1, Astros 2: Tanaka's revenge foiled

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Dallas Keuchel outduels Masahiro Tanaka once again as the Yankees drop Game One of the ALCS.

Greg Bird is tagged out at home by Brian McCann in the fifth inning during Game One of the ALCS at Minute Maid Park on October 13, 2017 in Houston, Texas.
Greg Bird is tagged out at home by Brian McCann in the fifth inning during Game One of the ALCS at Minute Maid Park on October 13, 2017 in Houston, Texas.
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Astros and Yankees have met only once before in the playoffs, when Dallas Keuchel outdueled Masahiro Tanaka in the 2015 American League Wild Card Game. New York had a chance for payback in Game One of the ALCS tonight, with an eagerly anticipated rematch slated between those two aces. As Yogi Berra once said, though, it was "deja vu all over again."

As with the 2015 Wild Card Game, Tanaka pitched well. He just didn't pitch well enough, while Keuchel once again sliced his way through the Yankees' lineup. The southpaw entered tonight's game with a microscopic 0.85 ERA against the Yankees over the last three years. He lowered it even further with his seven shutout innings tonight.

He became the only Houston pitcher besides Mike Scott and Nolan Ryan to strike out at least 10 batters in a postseason game. Yankees hitters have now succumbed to double-digit strikeouts in six consecutive games. They ended with 14 tonight, following 16 in the ALDS clincher against the Indians.

The Bronx Bombers didn't hit a ball out of the infield until the third inning, when Brett Gardner worked his way through a long at-bat, finally lining a two-out single to left. He was stranded at first base when Keuchel came back from a 3-1 count to strike Aaron Judge out swinging.

Tanaka had allowed only one walk and no hits heading into the fourth, when the Astros finally broke through. With one out, American League Batting Champion Jose Altuve reached on a weak infield single. He promptly stole second and scored the first run of the game on a Carlos Correa line drive single to left. Correa moved to second on a force play and scored on Yulieski Gurriel's single to center. The rally ended when Carlos Beltran grounded out.

New York missed an opportunity to immediately tie the game in the fifth. Greg Bird led off with a single to right and moved to second when Jose Altuve misplayed Matt Holliday's grounder. With runners on first and second and no one out, the Yankees could have scored without benefit of a hit, but they didn't. Todd Frazier lined out, Gardner struck out, and Bird was thrown out at the plate when Judge singled.

Bird did not get a good jump and made a bad turn coming around third, while Astros left fielder Marwin Gonzalez made a perfect throw to nail him. It was the defensive play of the game. The out call was challenged by Joe Girardi, but it was confirmed by replay review.

After settling down to throw a perfect fifth, Tanaka pitched into and out of trouble in the sixth. Altuve singled to left with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch. Tanaka struck out Correa looking, though, and eliminated Gonzalez on a groundout to end the inning. That also ended Tanaka's night. His final line was good: two runs, four hits, one walk, and three strikeouts over six innings. Unfortunately, he received no run support and took the hard-luck loss.

The Yankees missed another scoring chance in the eighth. Gardner drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Sanchez walked following a Judge groundout, but Didi struck out swinging to strand the runners.

Houston's closer Ken Giles struck out Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks to start the ninth. Yankee fans got a glimmer of hope when Bird spoiled the shutout by hitting his third home run of the 2017 postseason. Girardi sent up Jacoby Ellsbury to hit for Holliday, but Giles struck him out on four pitches to end the game.

Luis Severino will face Justin Verlander in Game Two tomorrow. First pitch is set for 4:00 PM EDT.