HOUSTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Reggie Jackson may forever be “Mr. October,” but Masahiro Tanaka and Gleyber Torres are giving the Hall of Famer a run for his money in 2019.
Torres kept up his October surge with a homer and five RBI, Tanaka polished his playoff resume and the New York Yankees blanked the Houston Astros 7-0 Saturday night in the AL Championship Series opener.
With so much attention focused on the Astros aces, Tanaka showed he more than belonged on this stage, too. He threw one-hit ball for six innings to outpitch Zack Greinke, improving to 5-2 with a 1.32 ERA in the postseason.
The Japanese righty has become one of the most accomplished October pitchers during his Yankees career — posting an ERA only bested by legends Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson in the playoffs.
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) October 13, 2019
Torres did his part in this showdown of 100-win behemoths with a go-ahead double, a solo homer, a two-run single and an RBI grounder. Moved up to third in the batting order after mashing in a sweep of Minnesota, the 22-year-old star became the youngest Yankee (and American League player) to drive in five runs during a postseason game.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) October 13, 2019
Giancarlo Stanton and Gio Urshela also homered and right fielder Aaron Judge turned in the key play, catching a line drive and doubling Alex Bregman off first base when it was still 1-0.
The Yankees will try to build on their early momentum when James Paxton starts against 21-game winner Justin Verlander in Game 2 on Sunday night.
Houston hardly looked like a club that led the majors with a franchise-record 107 victories. Jose Altuve, Bregman and their teammates were held to three singles.
The Astros had homered in 30 straight games — every game since Aug. 31 — and their streak was the second-longest in major league history behind a 31-game string by the Yankees this year.
Greinke, acquired at the trade deadline for these kind of moments, produced another lackluster playoff start.
Tanaka, who won Game 1 of the ALDS, struck out four and walked one. He faced the minimum through six innings thanks to a pair of double plays. One of the biggest surprises of the night was that manager Aaron Boone actually removed his starter after just 68 dominant pitches.
Three relievers finished up the shutout.
Torres picked up right where he left off in the division series where he hit .417 to lead the team — he batted sixth in those games, but was moved higher as manager Aaron Boone tinkered with his lineup to break up the team’s lefty hitters.
Torres put the Yankees out front with an RBI double in the fourth.
There was one out in the sixth when he hit a fastball from Greinke into the seats in left field. Greinke knew it was gone off the bat, and pounded his fist into his glove as soon as Torres left the batter’s box.
Stanton homered with two outs in the sixth.
— MLB (@MLB) October 13, 2019
The Astros and Yankees were meeting in the playoffs for the third time in five years and facing off in the ALCS for the second time in three seasons. New York’s road win on Saturday night comes after the home team won every game of the 2017 ALCS that Houston took 4-3.
The Astros got Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner, from Arizona in July, hoping to bolster a rotation starring Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Greinke went 8-1 with a 3.02 ERA in 10 regular-season starts after the trade, but has struggled in the postseason and lost both starts.
Greinke took the loss in Game 3 of the ALDS against Tampa Bay in allowing five hits, four of which were homers and six runs in 3 2/3 innings.
Urshela added a solo homer on rookie Bryan Abreu’s first pitch of the postseason to pad the lead in the ninth. Torres drove in another run with a groundout later in the inning.
The Yankees led 1-0 when Bregman drew a leadoff walk in the fifth. Yordan Alvarez followed with a drive that Judge caught on run, and he made a strong throw that first baseman DJ LeMahieu scooped for the double play. Bregman stumbled a bit trying to get back and was nabbed.
— MLB (@MLB) October 13, 2019
Verlander got the win in Game 1 of the ALDS, but took the loss in Game 4 when he started on short rest. He was chosen MVP of the 2017 ALCS when he went 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA in two starts against the Yankees.
Paxton allowed five hits and three runs in 4 2/3 innings in his postseason debut in Game 1 of the ALDS, but did not factor into the decision.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)