DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Hicks go deep to keep New York Yankees alive in American League Championship Series vs. Houston Astros
NEW YORK — DJ LeMahieu drove Justin Verlander’s second pitch over the wall, then Aaron Hicks sent the fans at Yankee Stadium into a frenzy with a three-run homer off the foul pole later in the first inning.
And just like that, the Bronx Bombers were back — in the game, and in this matchup of powerhouses.
A day after a brutal loss, and with little margin for more errors, the New York Yankees played like a 103-win team. James Paxton chilled Houston’s bats and the bullpen followed with shutdown relief to beat the Astros 4-1 Friday night, cutting their AL Championship Series deficit to 3-2.
“I wasn’t ready to go home yet,” Paxton said, “so I wanted to go out and give my team everything I had and just battle away.”
Now the teams rush to Texas, where the series resumes to
Paxton, a fishing aficionado born outside Vancouver in Ladner, British Columbia, wore three-quarter-length sleeves on a night with a gametime temperature of 52 degrees. That was the coldest for a Verlander start since last year’s ALCS opener at Boston — he had on long sleeves and half of Houston’s fielders had hoodies or balaclavas.
After lasting just 2 1/3 innings in Game 2, Paxton struck out nine in six innings, allowing four hits and four walks. Punching his pitching hand into his glove after big strikeouts, he saved his biggest emotion for his 112th and final pitch. Manager Aaron Boone had just made a trip to the mound, unsure whether he would make a change.
“He just said, ‘Are you ready? Do you have anything more left in the tank?'” Paxton said.
“And I said, ‘Yeah, let’s go. I want this.'”
Robinson Chirinos hit a first-pitch fastball that Brett Gardner caught in front of the left-field scoreboard with a runner on.