Bronx, N.Y., October 17, 2017; Yankees 6, Houston 4 — Righthanders Lance McCullers and Sonny Gray matched five-inning one-hitters in Game 4 of the ALCS in Yankee Stadium Wednesday evening, setting up a game much like the two 1-run contests the Astros had won in Houston to start the series. When, in the top of the sixth, a rare play that has been much in the pinstripers’ favor the last few years — a catcher’s interference by Yankee backstop Austin Romine on Josh Reddick — set the ‘stros up for a big inning, first baseman Yuli Gurriel delivered a three-run double off reliever David Robertson. At 3-0 down, then 4-0 after an unearned run in the seventh, one had the feeling that had this taken place in Houston, the Yankees would be down three games to one.
But it was the Bronx, and the Baby Bombers were not done. Aaron Judge homered to dead center to start the bottom of the seventh, closing the gap to 4-1, and driving McCullers from the game. Didi Gregorius tripled off Chris Devensky, and Gary Sanchez sac flied him home, 4-2 Houston. Once Chad Green set down the Astros in the eighth, Houston righthander Joe Musgrave, who closed out the seventh, quickly got into trouble, as veterans Todd Frazier and Chase Headley reached on base hits. The latter was pinch hitting, and through a stumbling baserunning adventure, the home team was set up with two in scoring position. An ensuing Brett Gardner fielder’s choice grounder plated a third run, and Judge tied the score with a double off the left field wall, with these last two at bats coming against closer Ken Giles.
And it didn’t get better. A Gregorius single moved Judge to third and then, with Didi running from first, Sanchez drilled a double to the right center field gap, scoring two and sending Giles to the showers. Luke Gregerson came on for the last two outs, which he got after a walk of Starlin Castro. Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman finished it with 10 throws, for two swinging strike outs and a fly to left, for a 6-4 Yankee win, and a 2-2 tie in games.
The Yanks outhit the visitors eight to three and, continuing a stark change in series fortunes, struck out just three times to nine by Houston players. Still, the scoreless early game, and the Houston midgame attack, made for a long day for roughly 49,000 in attendance, at least until the pivotal eighth inning. The bottom of this frame started with a called strike against Todd Frazier at 8:03 pm, and the onslaught was not over until Chapman poured in a 101-mph strike to Gurriel to start the ninth, at 8:41. That interlude was a distinct pleasure for most in attendance. It seemed to take a glorious hour, and use up 100 pitches from three Houston relievers. But what it really involved, in minutes, and in pitches, was,
38, and 37