2022 American League Championship Series

From BR Bullpen

2022 American League Championship Series
Houston Astros logo
2022 American League Championship Series logo
New York Yankees logo
Houston Astros
106 - 56 in the AL
4 - 0
Series Summary
New York Yankees
99 - 63 in the AL


The Teams[edit]




D.J. Reyburn served as the reserve umpire, moving into the rotation as home plate umpire in Game 2

Series results[edit]

Game Score Date Starters Time (ET)
1 New York Yankees 2 Houston Astros 4 October 19 Jameson Taillon (0-0) Justin Verlander (1-0) 7:37 pm
2 New York Yankees 2 Houston Astros 3 October 20 Luis Severino (0-1) Framber Valdez (1-0) 7:37 pm
3 Houston Astros 5 New York Yankees 0 October 22 Cristian Javier (1-0) Gerrit Cole (0-1) 5:07 pm
4 Houston Astros 6 New York Yankees 5 October 23 Lance McCullers (0-0) Nestor Cortes (0-0) 7:07 pm


Game 1 @ Minute Maid Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Yankees 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 5 0
Astros 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 x 4 7 1
WP: Justin Verlander (1-0); LP: Clarke Schmidt (0-1); SV: Ryan Pressly (1)
Home Runs: NY - Harrison Bader (1), Anthony Rizzo (1); HOU - Yuli Gurriel (1), Chas McCormick (1), Jeremy Peña (1)
  • Attendance: 41,487

Game 1 was typical of contemporary baseball as it featured a ton of strikeouts - 17 by the Astros' pitchers, including 11 in six innings by Justin Verlander - and five of the six runs scoring on solo homers. Only walks were missing from the Three True Outcomes equation - each team issued only two. Also missing were hits that stayed in the ballpark. The Yankees came into the game at a disadvantage, having had to travel across the country twice in the past four days, having just clinched their place in the series 24 hours before first pitch, and being forced to go with their fourth starter in Jameson Taillon, whose only postseason outing thus far had been an unconvincing relief appearance in which he was charged with a loss. On the opposite side, Verlander was well rested and an undeniable ace. Still, as one observer remarked before the game, if the Yankees had won one could just as easily have written that the Astros were at a disadvantage for having played just three games in the previous ten days, a definite break from the rhythm of the regular season. Verlander's performance allowed him to re-take the lead from Clayton Kershaw for most career postseason strikeouts, 219 to 213; the two had exchanged the lead a couple of times since the start of the postseason, but with the Los Angeles Dodgers now eliminated, Verlander's lead was not under immediate threat anymore.

It could easily be lost by looking just at Verlander's final pitching line, but he wasn't really sharp in the first three innings and had to expend a lot of pitches. In the 1st, he hit Anthony Rizzo with a pitch with two outs after which Giancarlo Stanton reached on an error by 2B José Altuve. In passing, one has to wonder how Rizzo did not shatter all hit-by-pitch records during the season given how much he crowded the plate during this postseason. In any case, Josh Donaldson was definitely not having a good day at the plate, and he struck out for the first of three times on the night to end the inning. For his part, Taillon also had to deal with two baserunners in the bottom of the 1st, with a one-out double by Jeremy Peña followed by a walk to Yordan Alvarez. He did not have the strikeout as a weapon to get out of tight spots though - he did not strike out anyone in 4 1/3 innings - but he did have Aaron Judge playing right field who made a nice diving catch on a line drive by Alex Bregman for the second out, followed by a ground out by Kyle Tucker, who had trouble coming through in the clutch that night. In the 2nd, Harrison Bader, continuing his impersonation of Babe Ruth - or would that be Randy Arozarena? - hit a solo homer with one out, after which Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled, but Verlander retired the next two batters. The Astros tied the game in the bottom of the inning as Chas McCormick singled with two outs and Martin Maldonado followed with a double to the right field corner.

In the 3rd, Verlander walked Rizzo with one out and followed that by giving up a double to Stanton, but he then struck out Donaldson and Matt Carpenter to end the inning without damage. It did not look like it immediately, but the two K's indicated that Verlander had finally found his groove, and he would cruise through the rest of his outing, retiring the remaining 11 batters he faced in order, all but two of them on strikes. He only left after six innings because he had reached 100 pitches. The game was still tied at that point, as Taillon allowed a couple more baserunners, but no more runs. He was removed after giving up a one-out double to Peña in the 5th, as Aaron Boone had likely decided before the game that he would not let his starter face the Astros a third time. Clarke Schmidt replaced him and after an intentional walk to Alvarez and an unintentional one to Bregman, got Tucker to hit into a double play grounder that ended the threat. However, manager Aaron Boone let Schmidt return for the 6th, deciding not to tap one of his higher-leverage relievers for now, and it proved very costly. The first batter he faced, Yuli Gurriel, homered into the Crawford Boxes in left field, and one batter later, McCormick also took him deep with an opposite-field shot to right. The two runs put Verlander in line for a win.

In contrast to Boone, Dusty Baker had no hesitation about sending in his top relievers, who were all well-rested, it must be said. Hector Neris retired the Yankees in order in the top of the 7th, and Boone now sent Frankie Montas, who had not pitched since mid-September due to an injury, in to pitch. Montas continued in his disappointing ways since his his acquisition for a steep price at the trading deadline, surrendering another solo homer, this one to Peña, to lead off the 7th. The Astros' lead was now 4-1, and the next man to pitch was Rafael Montero, who ran full counts on both Gleyber Torres and Judge before striking out both men, but, also on a full count, was taken deep to right field by Rizzo to cut the lead to 4-2. Stanton followed with a single and Donaldson worked a walk on yet another full count, and Baker decided to bring out his closer, Ryan Pressly, early. Pressly put the finishing touch on Carpenter's Golden Sombrero to end the inning, then made quick work of the Yankees in the 9th, with strikeouts of Bader and Kiner-Falefa, and a ground ball by Jose Trevino to end the game. Houston had won, 4-2.

Game 2 @ Minute Maid Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Yankees 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 0
Astros 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 x 3 8 2
WP: Framber Valdez (1-0); LP: Luis Severino (0-1); SV: Ryan Pressly (2)
Home Runs: HOU - Alex Bregman (1)
  • Attendance: 41,700

The Astros won Game 2 thanks to one well-timed swing by Alex Bregman against Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino in the 3rd inning; it resulted in a homer into the Crawford Boxes in left field at Minute Maid Park, and as there were two men on base, it gave the Astros three runs, which is exactly how many they would need to hang on for a 3-2 win and a two-games-to-none lead in the series. For a rare time, the roof was open, which created some wind inside the ballpark, and likely made the ball travel a little less. As a result, Bregman's homer was the only one of the game - in marked contrast to Game 1 - and the Yankees ended a record streak of 23 postseason games, dating back to the Division Series in 2019, in which they had hit at least one homer. Severino made only that one mistake against Bregman in his 5 innings of work, but his teammates continued to strike out at an alarming rate, 13 times after the 17 in Game 1. And that was in spite of Aaron Boone toying with his line-up to introduce more contact, putting Harrison Bader in the lead-off spot, and bringing in youngsters Oswaldo Cabrera and Oswald Peraza into the 8th and 9th spots. Peraza flashed some good defensive skills, but the two rookies combined to go 0 for 6.

For Houston, Framber Valdez got the start and did what he had done at almost every turn this season - pitch a quality start - getting over his hiccup in the Division Series when he had fallen one out short of the mark. He tossed seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits, and both runs were unearned due to his own error. It was already nine batters into the game when there was a first baserunner, Josh Donaldson, who doubled to right against Valdez with two outs in the 2nd. However, he was stranded when Kyle Higashioka struck out. The Astros then put two men on with a walk and a single in their half of the inning, but also stranded them. In the 3rd, Severino made his first costly mistake when he hit the weak-hitting Martin Maldonado with a pitch. After one out, by José Altuve, who was still looking for his first postseason hit when the game ended, Jeremy Peña singled. Next up was the ever-dangerous Yordan Alvarez, but he grounded into a force out. However, Bregman then followed with his clutch homer, and Houston was up, 3-0. With the Yankees' inability to put up crooked numbers lately, this already looked like a big lead.

The Yankees replied immediately, however. Leading off the 4th, Aaron Judge hit a single and Giancarlo Stanton hit what looked like a routine double play ball, a ball that bounced softly and right at Valdez. However, he managed to drop the ball, fell backwards on the ground, and then made an ill-advised throw to first base that ended up in right field. The result was that Judge was at third base, Stanton at second, no one was out, and Valdez was charged with two separate errors for his Little League-level fielding. The Yankees then cashed in the two runners on a ground out by Anthony Rizzo and a single by Gleyber Torres, but both Donaldson and Higashioka struck out, and the Yanks were still down, 3-2. There were a few scoring threats after that, but no more actual runners crossing the plate. Jonathan Loaisiga took over for Severino with one out in the 5th, after a single by Kyle Tucker and gave up another single, to Yuli Gurriel, but then ended the inning by forcing Aledmys Diaz to hit into a double play, on which 3B Donaldson, 2B Torres and 1B Rizzo all made nice plays. Valdez ended his night's work by striking out the side in the 7th, and in the bottom of the inning it was Altuve's turn to hit into an inning-ending double play.

Hard-throwing Albert Abreu replaced Valdez in the 8th and walked Bader with one out. Judge came up and hit a ball on a hard line to right field, but Tucker caught it just above the wall as just about everyone in the Yankees dugout thought the big man had hit another long ball. Indeed, Statcast confirmed the ball would have been a homer in New Yankee Stadium, with its short porch in right field - but not in any other ballpark. It was really the Yankees' best chance of tying the game: Bader smartly advanced to second after the catch, but Abreu struck out Stanton to end the inning. In the 9th, closer Ryan Pressly started off by striking out Rizzo and Torres before Donaldson drew a walk. In a last-ditch effort to tie the game, Boone made a couple of chances, sending in Tim Locastro as a pinch-runner and Matt Carpenter to pinch hit for Higashioka, but, as he had done four times the night before, Carpenter struck out, and the game was over. The two teams headed to New York with Houston up by two games.

Game 3 @ New Yankee Stadium[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Astros 0 2 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 5 6 0
Yankees 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 1
WP: Cristian Javier (1-0); LP: Gerrit Cole (0-1)
Home Runs: HOU - Chas McCormick (2)
  • Attendance: 47,569

Even with a change of venue to the Big Apple, the Astros' pitchers continue to stifle completely the Yankees' bats in Game 3, limiting them to three meager hits - two of them coming with two outs in the 9th - and no runs while a large crowd at New Yankee Stadium was clearly unhappy, loudly expressing its disappointment about its favorites' listless performance. The Yankees sent their ace, Gerrit Cole, to face the Astros, but he was betrayed by his defense, leading to a pair of early unearned runs, and then ran out of steam in the 6th, as the Astros cashed in three runs and put the game away. Houston did not do much damage with its bats either, with only six hits, but they made them count, and had the game under control almost from the start as Cristian Javier, starting in place of Lance McCullers, pitched into the 6th inning without allowing a run and five relievers, none of them going more than one inning, completed the job. New York once again moved its line-up around in the hope of generating some offence, with Anthony Rizzo taking over the lead-off spot in place of Harrison Bader, who moved back down to the sixth spot. They once again were beset by strikeouts, adding another 11 to their total, that was now up to 41 after three games.

Cole struck out the first two batters of the game before hitting Yordan Alvarez with a breaking ball that grazed his back foot. Alex Bregman followed with a single and the Yankees' ace was already in trouble. He did manage to strike out Kyle Tucker to end the inning but these were the first signs that it would not be an easy outing. For his part, Javier retired the side in order. In the 2nd, once again after two outs, Christian Vazquez, making his first start of the postseason at catcher, lifted a fly ball to right center. It caused confusion between Bader and Aaron Judge, the latter crossing in front of Bader just as the centerfielder was attempting to catch the ball, and it dropped off his glove to the ground for an error. Vazquez should normally have reached second base easily, but he was so convinced that the ball would be caught that he had started retreating to the dugout when he saw the ball fall, and quickly returned to first base. The next batter was Chas McCormick, and he made Aaron Boone swallow his complaints after Game 2 about how Minute Maid Park's open roof and dimensions had cost the Yankees the win, by taking full advantage of Yankee Stadium's short right field, parking a ball right on top of the wall near the foul pole at just about the shortest possible distance for a homer. And given Vazquez was on base, it was good for two runs, both unearned since the dropped fly ball should normally have ended the inning.

Given the Yankees' difficulty in scoring runs of late, these two runs loomed very large, especially as they did not record their first hit until the 4th, when Giancarlo Stanton doubled but neither Gleyber Torres nor Matt Carpenter could advance him any further. One can say that the good thing was that Carpenter finally made some contact, flying out to center field, after striking out in all six of his previous at-bats in the series. Another batter who broke a skein was José Altuve, who finally managed a hit with a double in the 5th after making a record 25 straight outs to start the postseason. He was left stranded, and it was Houston's first hit since McCormick's homer as Cole had managed to settle down. Bader walked to lead off the bottom of the 5th, but in trying to get something started, was caught stealing at second and Javier once again faced the minimum in that inning.

Cole suddenly lost it in the 6th inning. It started with a double by Bregman, followed by a walk to Tucker. Yuli Gurriel then singled to right to load the bases with no one out and Boone removed Cole, bringing in Lou Trivino in an almost impossible situation. Trey Mancini first hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0 with Tucker advancing to third and Gurriel to second, and both scored when Vazquez followed with a single. At 5-0, the game was practically in the bag, and everyone in the ballpark knew it. Dusty Baker, who normally likes to let his starting pitchers go deep into games, decided to remove Javier after a one-out walk to Rizzo in the 6th, but he could do so given his bullpen was well-rested, with most of the pitchers who would see action in the remainder of the game not having pitched since the marathon 18-inning game that ended the Division Series one week earlier. Hector Neris was first, getting the last two outs in the 6th without any drama, and Ryne Stanek pitched a perfect 7th. For the Yankees, Trivino settled down after his rough welcome in the 6th, pitching a 1-2-3 7th, followed by Miguel Castro who handled the 8th just as breezily, although the Astros' hitters were not really trying to pile on the runs by that point. In the bottom of the 8th, rookie Hunter Brown started off by walking Josh Donaldson and Oswaldo Cabrera but then got two outs before giving way to Rafael Montero who got Judge to ground out softly to end the inning. Domingo German also started the top of the 9th by issuing two walks, but without any damage, and Bryan Abreu came out to close the game, the five-run lead making it possible for Baker not to turn to one of his higher-leverage relievers. Abreu got two outs before Carpenter singled - only New York's second hit - followed by another single by Bader. Ryan Pressly had started warming up just in case but he wasn't needed as Donaldson ended the game by striking out on three pitches, looking completely overmatched at the plate as many of teammates had seemed to be that day.

Game 4 @ New Yankee Stadium[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Astros 0 0 4 0 0 0 2 0 0 6 9 0
Yankees 2 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 5 9 1
WP: Hector Neris (1-0); LP: Jonathan Loaisiga (0-1); SV: Ryan Pressly (3)
Home Runs: HOU - Jeremy Peña (2); NY - Harrison Bader (2)
  • Attendance: 46,545

The Astros completed a sweep of the Series with a 6-5 win in Game 4, after the Yankees' bats finally woke up and New York twice took the lead, only to see the Astros roar back in short order both times. The key plays were a three-run homer by Jeremy Peña, who was named the winner of the ALCS MVP Award, that erased the first deficit, and an error charged to 2B Gleyber Torres on a botched double play grounder that led to the winning rally by Houston. On the mound, Nestor Cortes, one of the heroes of the Yankees' Game 5 win on the Division Series, was making his first start of the series, but had to leave in the 3rd inning after experiencing discomfort in his groin, a condition that caused him to struggle with his normally pin-point control. For the Astros, Lance McCullers was also making his first start after being pushed back while recovering from a minor injury sustained from a champagne bottle during the Astros' celebration of their Division Series win. He also wasn't as sharp as usual and ended up giving up four runs in five innings. The start of the game was delayed by an hour and 24 minutes by rain, but the game was then played in good conditions.

Cortes escaped the 1st inning by only giving up a one-out single to Peña, but McCullers had a rougher start, as Harrison Bader, the Yankees' most dangerous hitter throughout the postseason, was back in the leadoff spot and hit a single. Aaron Judge flied out, but Rizzo was - once again - hit by a pitch, and for a rare time, the Yankees took advantage of having some baserunners, as Giancarlo Stanton and Torres both singled. The resulting 2-0 lead was the Bronx Bombers' first of the series. Cortes walked Kyle Tucker to lead off the top of the 2nd, but did not give up anything else, and in the bottom of the inning, New York scored again after a lead-off double by Isiah Kiner-Falefa, a two-out walk to Judge and a double by Rizzo. However, Judge stopped at third base, and Stanton left both baserunners in scoring position when he struck out on three pitches to end the inning. Still, a 3-0 lead at that point felt huge to Yankees fans who had not had much of anything to enjoy in the first three games, but it would turn out to be fleeting.

In the 3rd, Cortes committed a serious sin by walking the lead-off man, Martin Maldonado, and then walking Altuve in turn. Things did not seem right, and there was a brief medical visit to the mound, but Aaron Boone did not warm up anyone and let Cortes continue to pitch. On a three-ball count he surrendered a home run to Peña, his second of the series, which tied the score. That was the end for Cortes, who was obviously not himself, and Wandy Peralta had to come in. He immediately gave up a double to Yordan Alvarez, who advanced to third on a one-out single by Tucker. Yuli Gurriel then lined a single to the opposite field to put Houston in the lead for the first time. Peralta managed to escape without giving up any more runs, but things were looking dire for the Yankees, who had to surmount another deficit and also had a long bullpen night to look forward to. Peralta tossed a scoreless 4th, and in the bottom of the inning, Bader once again started things off, this time with a one-out single, moved to second on a passed ball by Maldonado, and scored the tying run on a two-out single by Rizzo. Peralta was replaced by Jonathan Loaisiga after walking the lead-off man in the 5th, Alvarez, as Boone realized that he had no choice but to use his best relievers as long as they would take him. Loaisiga induced a pair of ground balls, the first resulting in a double play, to end the inning, and three more ground balls to get through the 6th. Meanwhile, McCullers' day was done and he gave way to Hector Neris who after two outs in the 6th gave up Bader's fifth homer of the postseason to put the Yankees back in the lead, 5-4. If anyone needs to be reminded, Bader had not hit a single long ball during his time as a Yankee in the regular season, after having been obtained in a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals at the trading deadline, but he was now the team's unlikely hero.

Alas, the slim lead could not hold. With Loaisiga still on the mound, Altuve beat out an infield hit with one out in the 7th, and then the Yankees botched what should have been an inning-ending double play as Torres threw wildly to SS Kiner-Falefa, allowing Altuve to be safe at second and Peña to reach first base. Alvarez was next up and singled to right, driving in Altuve with the tying run while Peña advanced to third. Next up was Alex Bregman and with Clay Holmes on the mound, he lined another single to right to put Houston back in the lead, 6-5. This time, there would be no coming back for the Yankees. Bryan Abreu retired them in order in the bottom of the 7th, and Rafael Montero did the same in the 8th. The last three outs were given to closer Ryan Pressly who picked up his third save of the series by getting Jose Trevino to fly out, Bader to ground out to first, and Rizzo to ground back to him. The Astros were going back to the World Series for the fourth time in six years.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Ronald Blum (Associated Press): "Judge, perhaps Boone, face uncertain futures after Yanks out", Yahoo! News, October 24, 2022. [1]
  • Anthony Castrovince: "Yankees-Astros position-by-position breakdown", mlb.com, October 19, 2022. [2]
  • Bryan Hoch: "Yanks' season ends in familiar heartbreak", mlb.com, October 24, 2022. [3]
  • Daniel Kramer: "Peña's clutch HR caps ALCS MVP performance: Rookie continues hot hitting to erase Yankees' early Game 4 lead", mlb.com, October 24, 2022. [4]
  • Gabe Lacques: "Astros sweep aside Yankees to reach World Series for fourth time in six years", USA Today, October 24, 2022. [5]
  • Brian McTaggart: "Here's why Astros are optimistic entering 6th straight ALCS", mlb.com, October 16, 2022. [6]
  • Brian McTaggart: "Astros ride perfect postseason back to World Series: Houston sweeps Yankees for 4th AL pennant in 6 years", mlb.com, October 24, 2022. [7]

Related Sites[edit]

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AL Wild Card Series Mariners (WC2) over Blue Jays (WC1) (2-0)

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