Astros ace Dallas Keuchel opposes Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka in the opener of their AL Championship Series at Minute Maid Park. It's a rematch of the 2015 wild-card game, when Keuchel dominated a lineup that included current New York regulars Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Greg Bird and Didi Gregorius — that group was 2 for 9 with four strikeouts against Keuchel in a 3-0 loss. Keuchel also stumped the Yankees in a start this May, striking out nine with just an unearned run over six innings.
Tanaka had an up-and-down season but has been riding high of late. After finishing the regular season with a 15-strikeout game against Toronto, Tanaka pitched three-hit ball over seven innings in a 1-0 Game 3 win against Cleveland during the ALDS. The Japanese hurler with the nasty split-finger fastball has a 1.50 ERA over two career playoff starts.
DON'T JUDGE HIM
Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was out of whack in the AL Division Series, going 1 for 20 and striking out a whopping 16 times vs. Cleveland. The rookie led the AL with 52 home runs this season and also topped the majors with 208 strikeouts.
Judge's slump brought to mind other severe playoff skids. Yankees star Robinson Cano went 3 for 40 in the 2012 postseason and was hitless in 29 straight at-bats. In 1995, big-hitting Reds outfielder Reggie Sanders struck out 19 times while going 4 for 29. Reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant fanned in six straight at-bats for the Cubs this week in the NLDS vs. Washington.
TAKE YOUR TIME
Dodgers star shortstop Corey Seager is getting over a sore back. He didn't practice during a workout at Dodger Stadium, two days before the NL Championship Series opener at home against the Chicago Cubs. The 23-year-old aggravated his back during the NLDS win over Arizona earlier this week. He's expected to be OK for Los Angeles in Game 1.
The Cubs beat Washington 9-8 in the deciding Game 5 of the NLDS late Thursday night. Chicago topped the Dodgers in six games last year in the NLCS.Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.