Tanaka, Yanks Silence Astros, 5-0; Take ALCS Command
Houston Looks To Verlander To Extend Series

Tanaka: Points way to ALCS lead
(c) Michael Giaglo/Houston Chronicle
So far, the home team has won every game of this American League Championship Series and the Astros hope it finishes that way. It's their only hope now of reaching the World Series.

Masahiro Tanaka was a hero for the Yankees Wednesday as he blanked the once-mighty Houston lineup for seven innings, allowing just three hits and one walk to lead the Bombers to a 5-0 whitewash in Game 5 of the A.L.C.S. The series now returns to Minute Maid Park for Game 6 and, hopefully, Game 7.

Dallas Keuchel, who was masterful in Game 1, allowed seven hits and four runs, leaving after just 4-2/3rd innings. He did strike out eight while walking just one. Will Harris, Brad Peacock and Nelson Liriano finished out, giving up only a solo homer by Gary Sanchez off Peacock in the seventh.

Houston was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Yuli Gurriel and Carlos Correa hit doubles but that was as far as any Astros traveled. George Springer and Marwin Gonzalez also had singles and that was all the offensive production Houston could produce.

An offense that averaged 5.5 runs per game this season is having trouble producing five hits per game against Yankee pitching and that's a stat which must turn around pronto or "next year" will have arrived for a team many had thought was the best in franchise history.

A full house of orange-clad Astros fans will be rooting for an offensive blowback Friday to support Justin Verlander in the do-or-die Game 6 which starts at 7:00 Central. Luis Severino, who left early last Saturday after taking a liner to his arm, will return as the Yankee starter.

The Astros have run out of excuses. They need to win Friday or their season is over.

- Bob Hulsey