Masahiro Tanaka just continues to come through for the Yankees in the postseason. Given a huge opportunity in Game One of the ALCS, squaring off with the Astros’ number-three starter in the still-formidable Zack Greinke, the Yankees needed Tanaka to come up big. He delivered, and thanks to a massive game at the plate from young star Gleyber Torres, Tanaka’s performance held up in the Yankees’ comprehensive 7-0 series-opening triumph.
Tanaka really couldn’t have been much better tonight, as he faced the minimum 18 hitters through six dominant innings. A couple of double plays from Robinson Chirinos and Yordan Alvarez helped Tanaka erase the only baserunners he put on all evening.
In the bottom of the fifth, Alex Bregman would reach with a base on balls after a tough at-bat. Next. Gary Sanchez called for a high fastball that leaked slightly into the zone against Alvarez, which the young slugger lined into the glove of Aaron Judge, who uncorked a strong throw to first to double up Bregman. That would be the closest the Astros came to scoring early in the game. Tanaka finished with just one hit and one walk, striking out four.
Zack Greinke battled Tanaka, facing the minimum through the first three innings as well, but in the fourth the Yankees opened the scoring. DJ LeMahieu singled through the left side of the infield leading off, and two batters later Torres, the new three-hole hitter, doubled to give the Yankees the first lead of the series. Later, in the sixth inning,Torres would hit a home run to the left field porch, doubling the Yankees’ lead.
The Yankees would expand their lead from there thanks to Giancarlo Stanton. On his third trip to the plate, Stanton lined a bullet out to right-center, 110 mph off the bat for a solo homer and three-run lead. Stanton also singled in what was his strongest game of the playoffs so far.
The game really started to open up in the seventh. After two quick outs by reliever Ryan Pressly, Didi Gregorius singled, followed by two more singles from LeMahieu and Judge. The bases were loaded for Torres, who added another two RBI onto his stat line with a bloop single into center field, making it a 5-0 game.
The Yankees wouldn’t stop there. In the ninth, Gio Urshela lead the inning off with a home run of his own. A LeMahieu walk and Judge single would once again put Torres in a position to produce. This time, he merely drove a run in with a groundout, making it 7-0 with his fifth RBI of the game. With every at-bat, this is feeling more and more like a star-making October for Torres.
That level of production was more than enough for a Yankee run prevention unit that has been stellar so far this postseason. Manager Aaron Boone elected to pull Tanaka six innings into his stellar performance, going for the kill immediately with Adam Ottavino in the seventh. Ottavino worked out of two-on, one-out jam with a double play, and Zack Britton struck out two with a clean eighth. Jonathan Loaisiga pitched a scoreless ninth to finish off the game.
The Yankees simply outplayed the Astros in every facet of the game. The Bombers hit homers, strung together rallies, pitched well and played good defense. They couldn’t have asked for a better start to the ALCS, and will have a chance to go up 2-0 in the series tomorrow night. Justin Verlander goes in that game for the Astros, so the Yankees will have their hands full, but they will turn to James Paxton. New York has every chance to get this series off to an absolute dream start.