After an unexpected day off, the American League Championship Series resumes in New York with the Houston Astros looking to take a commanding 3-1 lead and the Yankees hoping to even the series and reduce it to a best-of-three.
What’s on tap
8:08 p.m. ET: Astros at Yankees, ALCS Game 4
The most important thing of the day: This is clearly a huge game for the Yankees, who can ill afford to lose again at home, with their best big-game starter, Masahiro Tanaka, on the mound. Additionally, Houston will start Zack Greinke, the “weak link” of its rotation power trio. Greinke has had success against New York this season, however, with a 2.89 ERA over 18⅔ innings.
The view from inside the ballpark
NEW YORK — There was no media access at Yankee Stadium after Game 4 of the ALCS was postponed due to a storm that was expected to drop close to two inches of rain across the area. The washout allowed the Yankees and Astros to send their Game 1 starters — Tanaka and Greinke — back to mound. Light rain is expected Thursday, and while it is supposed to clear out by the first pitch, gusty winds and cool temperatures could affect play. — Marly Rivera
A stat to impress your friends: Tanaka has 1.32 career postseason ERA, which ranks third all time among pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched (since earned runs became an official stat in 1913). Only Mariano Rivera and Sandy Koufax have a lower career postseason ERA.
With the blustery conditions, and Tanaka on the mound, the Yankees should have an advantage against Greinke, whom they have consistently hit throughout his career (5.05 ERA). If the wind is blowing out, it’ll be a high-scoring game. Yankees 9, Astros 5 — Rivera
Tanaka has been a brilliant big-game pitcher — and Tanaka at Yankee Stadium takes excellence and amplifies it. Yankees 4, Astros 1 — Jeff Passan
Off the diamond
Social media says:
So you’re telling me there’s a chance! pic.twitter.com/QJjq2P3r4c
— MLB (@MLB) October 16, 2019
Quote of note: “We’re going to have to get some innings out of our starters, there’s no question about it. … Between [Tanaka] and [Game 5 starter James] Paxton these next two days, they’re going to need to give us some innings if we’re going to be successful. But again, we’ve got to go out and win a game. So I’ll be aggressive in that sense. But we do have to get some bulk innings out of some people, there’s no question.” — Yankees manager Aaron Boone
Best of the playoffs so far …
Our running postseason MVP: How good is Gerrit Cole right now? Everyone agrees he was a little off in Game 3 of the ALCS, yet he nonetheless shut out the Yankees over seven innings for a huge Astros win. For the postseason, Cole is 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA and 32 strikeouts, giving up one run, 10 hits and eight walks in 22⅔ innings. Needless to say, he’s on track for one of the best postseasons ever for a starting pitcher.
The play of this October: We’re going to cheat and make this plays: the back-to-back home runs by the Nationals’ Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto off the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw in the eighth inning of Game 5 of the National League Division Series. Kershaw in the wake of Soto’s tying bomb could end up as the lasting image of these playoffs.
Game of the postseason so far: Nationals-Dodgers, Game 5 of the NLDS. The Dodgers ambushing Stephen Strasburg, Strasburg settling down and keeping the Nats in it, Walker Buehler‘s mastery, Kershaw’s big strikeout before his eighth-inning implosion, Howie Kendrick‘s 10th-inning grand slam, questions for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. There’s a lot to unpack here, and this was a true postseason classic.