NEW YORK (AP) — A power outage could mean a quick end to the New York Yankees’ postseason.
Houston largely has kept the Yankees from hitting home runs, allowing only a pair of solo shots. The Astros arrive in New York with a 2-0 AL Championship Series lead going into Game 3 on Saturday, halfway toward their third ALCS win over the Yankees in six seasons.
“We got to shorten up a little bit and try to put the ball in play,” Giancarlo Stanton said after a 3-2 loss on Thursday night. “We all have to make mid-at-bat adjustments in order to put the ball in play. The game’s extremely fast and they’re reading swings, reading body language. You got to be able to counteract that.”
New York has scored 18 of 24 postseason runs on 11 long balls. The Yankees have been even more homer dependent than during the regular season, when they drove in a major league-high 50.8% of their runs on four-baggers; the big league average was 39.8%.
The Yankees are hitting .169 in the playoffs, including .138 (9 for 65) in the two games against the Astros. New York batters have struck out 30 times to Houston’s eight.
“I would love to have everyone be .300 hitters and 30-homer guys,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Friday. “Hard in this day and age to not be a team that hits the ball out of the ballpark to be an elite offense, and certainly in the postseason, regardless of what people say, the home run ball is enormous. … You got to understand situationally that you’ve got to be able to do little things and shorten up in certain situations.”
New York hit a major league-high 254 home runs during the season. Houston allowed 134 — only San Francisco at 132 gave up fewer. The Astros have allowed just four during a 5-0 postseason start, helping overcome a .229 batting average.
“We’ve got a great offense. I think we just got to go back to what got us to this position and what helped us win a division and we’ll be where we want to be,” said Aaron Judge, who is 5 for 28 with two homers and 12 strikeouts in the playoffs. “If that’s contact or that’s moving guys over or if it’s coming up with that big hit, we’ll figure it out and be where we need to be.”
Houston split four games at Yankee Stadium in June, when Cristian Javier, Héctor Neris and Ryan Pressly combined on the first no-hitter against New York in 19 years. Javier starts Game 3 for the Astros and ace Gerrit Cole for the Yankees.
Javier will have had 10 days’ rest since a 21-pitch relief outing against Seattle in the Division Series opener. His last start was Oct. 1.
“We’ve been working just to continue to try to have, keep my arm ready for this type of moment,” Javier said.
New York’s Nestor Cortes and the Astros’ Lance McCullers Jr. pitch Sunday. McCullers was pushed back a day after he was cut near his right elbow by a thrown bottle during the Division Series celebration.
“Some guy was kind of coming back behind me and the bottle just happened to kind of hit the back inside a part of my elbow as the people were passing by,” McCullers said. “It wasn’t like we were getting wild. I was standing there. He was walking by, just happened to hit me in the right spot.”
TOP OF THE ORDER
Harrison Bader likely will remain at the top of the batting order, according to Boone. Bader went 1 for 3 with a walk in his first time hitting leadoff since May 2 with St. Louis.
“Definitely something I’m considering as we try and find a way to score some runs,” Boone said.
Houston’s Jose Altuve is 0 for 23 this postseason, the longest hitless streak at the start of a postseason in major league history. He broke the mark set when Dal Maxvill of St. Louis went 0 for 22 in the 1968 World Series, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
New York’s Matt Carpenter, sidelined from Aug. 8 until the postseason with a broken left foot, is 0 for 7 in the playoffs with seven strikeouts.
New York has lost the first two games of a best-of-seven series 10 times previously and won four of them: the World Series in 1956, ’58, ‘78 and ’96. … The Yankees have thrown just 13 pitches with a lead against Houston this year.
When Houston arrived at Yankee Stadium in June, New York was 7 1/2 games ahead for the best record in the AL. Astros manager Dusty Baker thought about the possibility of an October rematch.
“Nobody thought that the Dodgers were going to lose, or nobody thought the Mets were going to lose,” Baker said. “I’m sure the gamblers are having a fit because everybody thought it was going to be the Dodgers and Mets at this point, and probably us and the Yankees.”
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