Yankees claw back into series

The Associated Press
Ronald Blum

NEW YORK–Back in the Bronx, the big guys delivered.
Greeted by an array of “All Rise” signs in a ballpark that fits their style, Aaron Judge hit a three-run homer and made a pair of sparkling catches, leading CC Sabathia and the N.Y. Yankees over the Houston Astros 8-1 last night.
The win cut their deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven AL Championship Series.
Todd Frazier hit a go-ahead, three-run homer into the short porch in right field in the second inning against Charlie Morton.
The 6’7″ Judge entered in a 4-for-31 (.129) post-season slump that included one home run, four RBIs, and 19 strikeouts.
But the slugger capped a five-run fourth with a laser of a drive to left field off Will Harris, and also robbed Yuli Gurriel and Cameron Maybin of extra-base hits.
“You see a guy put his head basically through the wall and then dive,” Frazier said.
“The ground is going to shake when he hits the ground.”
Sabathia, almost as big at 6’6″, allowed just three hits over six scoreless innings for his first post-season win in five years.
The Yankees stopped a seven-game ALCS losing streak dating to Sabathia’s victory over Texas in 2010–when Judge just started his freshman year at Fresno State.
After a pair of 2-1 losses in Houston, the Yankees led 8-0 after four innings.
“Just the energy, the fans,” Sabathia said. “We can kind of feed off their energy.”
New York improved to 4-0 at home this post-season. The Yankees were an AL-best 51-30 at home during the regular season.
“We’re somewhat built for this ballpark,” said manager Joe Girardi.
Houston scored on a bases-loaded walk in the ninth before post-season star Jose Altuve grounded into a game-ending double play.
Sonny Gray starts Game 4 for New York on 11 days’ rest this afternoon against Lance McCullers Jr.
Frazier got the Yankees rolling, taking an awkward hack at a low, outside fastball and slicing an opposite-field drive over the right-field scoreboard.
“You don’t think it’s going, just because how unorthodox the swing was,” Frazier admitted.
Judge used his height–and long left arm–to make a leaping catch with his left shoulder slamming into the right-field wall against Gurriel starting the fourth.
Being a rookie, he politely waited outside the dugout for all the veterans to descend the steps after the third out (as he always does), then capped a five-run bottom half with a laser of a line drive that just cleared the left-field wall.
Then in the fifth, he sprinted into short right for a diving backhand catch on Maybin.
On the first chilly night of the autumn with a game-time temperature of 57 degrees F, Sabathia relied on the sharp, slow slider that has helped revive the former flamethrower’s career.
Pitching with caution to Houston’s dangerous lineup, he walked four, struck out five, and pitched shutout ball for the first time in 21 career post-season starts.
During the regular season, he was 9-0 in 10 starts following Yankees’ losses.
“It’s weird, me being 37, smoke and mirrors, getting a shutout,” Sabathia said.
Adam Warren followed with two hitless innings, Dellin Betances walked his only two batters, and Tommy Kahnle finished.
Houston had four hits, leaving it with just 15 over the first three games, and is batting .169 in the matchup.
Editor’s note: Game 3 of the NLCS between the L.A. Dodgers and Chicago Cubs goes tonight at Wrigley Field.
L.A. leads the series 2-0 after a pair of wins at Dodger Stadium.