New York Yankees’ skipper Joe Girardi, coming off a three straight wins over the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS, talked before the start of the American League’s Championship Series about the lineup his team will face in Houston.
“Extremely talented offensively,” Girardi said when asked what he thought of the Astros.
“It's a club that scores a lot of runs but doesn't swing and miss very much. I think when you look at them it's a complete lineup throughout. They're aggressive on the base paths so you have to control that. They're going to hit their home runs, but they're going to do a lot of other things offensively. So you need to make pitches.”
Astros’ skipper A.J. Hinch was asked if he was surprised to see the Yankees in the ALCS, given the run Cleveland went on late this season heading into the Division Series.
“I'm not surprised,” Hinch said.
“I think that anything can happen, there's a small, small margin among these teams, including ourselves, where if you don't play well, if you don't play well at the right time, you can get beat.
“The Yankees, with their strengths of their bullpen and their home run power, couple big home runs and a lock-down bullpen got them a few wins and a couple high-end starting pitching outings won them the series. And that should be no surprise to anybody.
“But I haven't been following the Yankees every year, all year, but when the series started if you would have told me we were playing the Yankees in the American League Championship Series, that wouldn't have really shocked me.”
Starting for the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS is right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who struggled away from Yankee Stadium this season with a 6.48 ERA, 5.35 FIP, 2.70 BB/9, 8.86 K/9 and a .289/.346/.529 line against in 83 1⁄3 innings outside of the Bronx, and a 3.22 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 1.52 BB/9, 10.04 K/9 and a .224/.263/.408 line against in 95 IP in NY.
“He's been an interesting case the whole time we have had him,” Girardi said Thursday.
“One year it's been he's better on normal rest and then the next year he's better on longer rest and one year he's better at night and one year he's better in the day.
“It just, the sample size sometimes is just not enough really to have a true feeling of exactly why. You try to put your finger on it.”
Dallas Keuchel starts for the Astros. He’s had success against the Yankees in previous seasons, but their team is different than in season’s past.
Hinch said he hoped it would carry over into tonight’s outing anyway.
“I think when he looks out there and sees the Yankee uniform, maybe we can make him feel a little bit better. But I don't think that stuff matters,” Hinch explained.
“I know there's a confidence level. And to be honest with you, when Dallas is right, he's confident against anybody. I don't think [it matters] who the names are or who the jersey is, he knows he can get anybody out in the league.
“So there's a small history with some of these guys, but a lot of these young guys that are new to the Yankees over the last year or so don't have a ton of at-bats against him. So in this setting, in this ballpark, Dallas can get his outs regardless of who he's facing.”
At home in Minute Maid Park this season, the left-hander has a 2.26 ERA, a 3.16 FIP, 2.64 BB/9, 7.41 K/9, and a .187/.253/.275 line against in 71 2⁄3 innings.
The ALCS starts at 8:00 PM EDT in Houston. Here are the lineups for tonight’s game: