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Masahiro Tanaka (SI.com)

Baseball

Yankees sweep home portion of ALCS, one win away from World Series

Tanaka pitched seven shutout innings to give the Yankees a 3-2 series lead.

The New York Yankees once again took care of business at Yankee Stadium in the 2017 MLB Playoffs. After taking the one-game Wild Card at home, the Yankees won Games 3 and 4 of the ALDS to even the series before defeating the Cleveland Indians on the road to advance.

Now, after dropping two heartbreaking games to the Houston Astros to start the American League Championship Series, the Yankees have won three straight in New York. The series will now return to Houston with the Yankees needing to win one of two to advance to the World Series.

On Wednesday, the Yankees received another outstanding outing from starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. The right-hander surrendered just three hits and one walk in seven shutout innings, striking out eight, and earning the win. Tommy Kahnle finished it off with two scoreless innings.

Tanaka outdueled Astros ace Dallas Keuchel as the offense once again took out an opponents ace early in a postseason game. Keuchel was unable to get out of the fifth inning after giving up four runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Greg Bird got the Yankees on the scoreboard first with a RBI single in the bottom of the second inning, scoring Starlin Castro who had reached base with a double one at-bat prior. Bird as had multiple big hits this postseason.

The very next inning, Aaron Judge drove a ball down the third base line and into the left field corner for a double. Brett Gardner scored from first base on the play, giving the Yankees a 2-0 lead.

That was all the Yankees would need, as Tanaka cruised through the Astros lineup. Houston was off balance the entire game, really for much of the series in fact. Baseball’s highest run scoring team has scored just nine runs combined in the five ALCS games. This after they beat up on the Boston Red Sox, scoring 24 runs in four games. The Yankees pitchers have been nothing short of fantastic.

Despite not needing more, the Yankees were provided insurance runs off the bat of catcher Gary Sanchez. In the fifth, with two runners on, Sanchez laced a single that would score Chase Headley and advance Judge to third. The next batter, Didi Gregorius, singled off the glove of a diving Jose Altuve, scoring Judge and giving the Yankees a 4-0 cushion.

Sanchez capped the scoring in the seventh with a solo home run off Brad Peacock who was on in relief for Houston.

The Yankees now have the series lead at three games to two. Game 6 is scheduled for Friday night in Houston. Luis Severino will take the mound for the Yankees. It will be Severino’s first postseason outing that is not an elimination game. The Yankees will have a rested bullpen ready to go.

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