The Astros will have the right starter on the mound to kill the Yankees’ momentum.
Three years after knocking them from the playoffs — and less than a week removed from dominating them again — Astros ace Dallas Keuchel will be asked to stop the Yankees from inching closer to another improbable playoff comeback Wednesday in Game 5 of the ALCS.
In Houston’s Game 1 win, the 2015 Cy Young winner pitched seven shutout innings, while recording 10 strikeouts. In Houston’s AL wild-card win over the Yankees that postseason, Keuchel threw six shutout innings on short rest.
In eight career starts against the Yankees, Keuchel has a 1.09 ERA. In four career playoff starts, he is 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA, having won both postseason appearances this season, while allowing one run over 12 ²/₃ innings.
“Just being here, it brings a sense of calmness just because of the fact that we did win the 2015 wild card,” Keuchel said before Game 4. “But then again, that was two years ago. So this is a whole new team, a whole new challenge.
“When I look back each season I appreciate the opportunity that I’ve had, the special moments in the season, and this by far is the most special moment because we’re [close to] the World Series, yet it’s a very long ways away.. … That’s why I cherish the big moment. It’s not like I’m ready for the big moment. You prepare yourself as much as possible, and I put myself in a position to be there but you just cherish it and know that your preparation is going to pay off and that’s what I do.”
As late as the eighth inning of Game 4, Keuchel expected to have the chance to shut the lights to Yankee Stadium again, but after Houston’s bullpen imploded, the southpaw will have to settle for sending the Astros back home one victory away from clinching a World Series appearance.
Though Keuchel is capable of single-handedly silencing Yankee Stadium, which legitimately looked like it was bouncing Tuesday night, he said he first wants to hear the hate that awaits him when he takes the mound for the biggest start of his career.
“That’s also one of the joys is when you’re doing your job correctly as a visiting player for the visiting team against the Yankees, people always are going to have choice words for you,” Keuchel said. “To have some boos [Monday] night getting introduced, that was a nice feel. You get boos against the ‘Evil Empire’ at the home turf, it makes you feel good just because you’re doing your job correctly.”