ALCS begins tonight with Yankees visiting Houston
HOUSTON (AP) — Dallas Keuchel is tired of talking about his success against the New York Yankees.
It didn’t matter on Thursday, though. It was an unavoidable subject for Houston’s ace as he prepares to start against them in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series tonight. Masahiro Tanaka will pitch for New York, which is in the championship series for the first time since 2012.
“I’ve been asked that question like 10 times already,” said a slightly exasperated Keuchel. “I don’t know, I mean, we’re one of only four teams left, so at this point a lot of guys have had success pitching-wise on either the Indians or the Yankees.”
Unlike the pitcher, manager A.J. Hinch didn’t shy away from singing Keuchel’s praises for his work against the Yankees. He joked that the lefty will probably feel better when he takes the mound and sees players in Yankees uniforms. But he was quick to point out that Keuchel’s success certainly hasn’t been limited to games against New York.
“I know there’s a confidence level,” Hinch said. “And to be honest with you, when Dallas is right, he’s confident against anybody. I don’t think who the names are or who the jersey is, he knows he can get anybody out in the league.”
But Keuchel has pitched better than most against the Yankees in recent years, going 4-2 with a 1.41 ERA and 45 strikeouts in six regular-season starts. His biggest win to date against them came in the 2015 AL wild-card game when he and the thenupstart Astros got a 3-0 win in the Bronx. He struck out seven and scattered three hits over six innings to get the win in Houston’s first trip to the post-season in a decade after years of rebuilding and losing.
“For that win in the wild-card game, it wasn’t just special for me and the validation, it was special for everybody to go into New York and play that well,” Keuchel said. “But now we look back on it and it’s probably one of the most magical times that I’ll have in my career and it’s something I’ll never forget, for sure.”
Keuchel gets the nod in the opener after pitching behind Justin Verlander in the ALDS. Verlander, who was acquired on Aug. 31, made his first career relief appearance to help eliminate the Boston Red Sox in Game 4 on Monday.
After Keuchel and Tanaka meet tonight, Verlander and Luis Severino will pitch in Game 2 on Saturday in Houston.
The Yankees said CC Sabathia will pitch Game 3 and Sonny Gray will go in Game 4. Houston’s hasn’t announced its rotation.