Where: Yankee Stadium, The Bronx
NEW YORK – The New York Yankees woke up offensively just in time on their home field and hope to build on a big night when the Houston Astros visit for Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday. The Yankees managed only two runs while losing the first two games but exploded for eight runs in the first four innings on Monday before going on to post a critical 8-1 triumph.
Aaron Judge, who was 4-for-31 with 19 strikeouts in the playoffs coming into Monday’s contest, and Todd Frazier (2-for-15 in the previous five games) each belted a three-run homer to break out of postseason slumbers as New York avoided playing another elimination game. Sonny Gray will try to help the Yankees even the series and keep Jose Altuve under control as the AL batting champion is 11-for-30 lifetime against him and hitting .481 with three homers in the postseason. Houston will counter with Lance McCullers Jr., who struck out 132 batters over 118 2/3 innings during the regular season but is looking for his first victory since June 24. The Astros, who led the majors in several offensive categories this campaign and averaged six runs along with 12.3 hits in the AL Division Series, have managed five runs and 15 hits over the first three games against the Yankees.
TV: 5:08 p.m. ET, FS1
PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros RH Lance McCullers Jr. (0-0, 6.00 ERA) vs. Yankees RH Sonny Gray (0-1, 8.10)
McCullers makes his second career playoff start and first this postseason after giving up two runs and three hits over three innings of relief against Boston on Oct. 8. The 24-year-old Tampa native, who gave up two runs over 6 1/3 frames in his other playoff start in 2015, went 7-4 with a 4.25 ERA during the regular season but was winless in his last eight turns. Didi Gregorius is 5-for-8 against McCullers, who went 1-0 with a 2.38 ERA in two starts versus the Yankees during an eight-game stretch this year in which he went 5-0.
Gray has had plenty of rest since permitting three runs on three hits and four walks over 3 1/3 innings against Cleveland in the ALDS for his eighth loss in 12 decisions since joining the Yankees. The 27-year-old Vanderbilt product is 2-3 with a 5.65 ERA in five starts at Yankee Stadium this year and gave up five runs over five innings in a loss to Houston on June 20 while with Oakland. Gray is winless in three career postseason outings, but he pitched well for the Athletics during the 2013 playoffs (2.08 ERA in two starts).
1. Houston 1B Yuli Gurriel went 9-for-17 in the ALDS but is just 2-for-9 in the ALCS after going hitless in four at-bats on Monday.
2. The Yankees’ bullpen has limited opponents to a .162 batting average while posting a 2.13 ERA in the postseason despite giving up a ninth-inning run in Game 3.
3. Houston C Brian McCann sat out for the first time in the playoffs in Game 3 in favor of C Evan Gattis after going 2-for-22 in six games.