One thing has remained an absolute truth: the Astros’ pitching has been one of the team’s strong points throughout the postseason. On Thursday night, it was at its best to guide Houston into a 2-0 lead in the American League Championship Series, thanks to defeating the Yankees 3-2 at Minute Maid Park for the second night in a row.
The Astros used only three pitchers, but that was just enough. Framber Valdez was flawless on the mound to get the win while Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressly did their part out of the bullpen.
Valdez worked seven strong innings in which he allowed just four hits (three singles) and two unearned runs. The lefty did not issue a walk and struck out nine Yankee hitters. Framber retired the final seven men he faced and, in general, completely dominated the Yankees with 25 swings and misses, a new career-high for him and the third-best mark in the history of the postseason – Gerrit Cole had 33 and Tim Lincecum registered 31.
Out of Valdez’s 25 whiffs, 16 were with his curveball, eight with his sinker, and one with his cutter.
Valdez was so good on Thursday that he only needed one key at-bat as offensive support.
Against starter Luis Severino in the third inning, Alex Bregman launched a three-run home run to crack the scoreboard 3-0. It was his second homer of the postseason and it made the difference for Houston in this one.
When Boosie starts playing, you best not miss. pic.twitter.com/v6R2QPTeao— Houston Astros (@astros) October 21, 2022
“He’s [Severino] one of the best pitchers in the game. I was just fortunate to get that pitch,” Bregman said after the game. “Framber has been amazing all year long, we’ve got a lot of confidence in him.”
Bregman, back to his best shape, went 2-for-4 and is slashing .318/.375/.636 with seven hits over 22 at-bats.
The Yankees had all of their action in the fourth inning. After Aaron Judge opened the inning with a single and Framber committed two errors during the same play, New York scored twice. But with a man on first and only one out, Valdez struck out Josh Donaldson and Kyle Higashioka to end the threat.
After Valdez was out of the game, Bryan Abreu threw the eighth with a scoreless performance that was helped by a great catch by Kyle Tucker in right field to take an extra-base hit away from Aaron Judge.
To end the game, Ryan Pressly struck out three rivals, including pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter. It was Pressly’s third saved of this postseason.
Gerrit Cole will be the Yankee’s starter on Saturday, when the series moves to Yankee Stadium. The Astros are yet to announce a starter.