With a 3-1 lead in the American League Championship Series and a number of opportunities to lock down a spot in the World Series for the second time in four seasons, Houston Astros’ skipper A.J. Hinch didn’t want to discuss what he’d do with his pitching in a potential Game 6 when a reporter asked about the Astros’ plans before tonight’s game.
“You know, Game 6 is tomorrow,” Hinch said.
“And I’ve said this for the first four games and leading into Game 5, that we have a single mindset of a single game. That’s all we’re really worried about.
“I have a plan that we’ll discuss tomorrow if we have a game tomorrow. And we have everybody available in the bullpen tonight including guys that have started before for us, [Josh] James or [Brad] Peacock or [José] Urquidy. Those are all certainly options.
“But if I’m going to preach the first four games to talk about today’s game, then I should honor my own request for the players, and just worry about trying to win tonight with [Justin Verlander] on the mound.”
Through three starts this month, Verlander, 36, is (1-1) with a 3.12 ERA, eight walks, 20 Ks, and a .210/.300/.387 line against in 17 1⁄3 IP in the postseason.
Verlander is going up against New York Yankees’ lefty James Paxton, 30, who has started twice in October, giving up nine hits and four earned runs in eight innings (5.14 ERA) over which he’s walked three, struck out 11, and posted a .310/.375/.621 line against.
“He’s got to go out and pitch well and set the tone for us,” Yankees’ skipper Aaron Boone told reporters after last night’s loss, “... because we want to get on that plane to Houston now, and that starts with Pax.”
Will the Astros finish the Yankees off in Game 5 tonight, or will the Yankees send the series back to Houston for Game 6?