Mandatory Credit: Photo by JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (13489274ah) Houston Astros Jeremy Pena (R) celebrates with Houston Astros Martin Maldonado (C) and Houston Astros Jose Altuve (L) after hitting a three-run home run off New York Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes during the third inning of the fourth game of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York, New York, USA, 23 October 2022. MLB Houston Astros at New York Yankees, USA – 23 Oct 2022
With the pressure mounting to an all-time high for the Yankees, they had to wait an hour and a half longer to face the Astros in ALCS Game 4 due to a rain delay. Houston’s 3-0 lead allowed them to try and keep playing just like they had so far, while New York needed to search for something new.
The Yankees lineup stepped up in Game 4, taking advantage of a rough night by Lance McCullers Jr. to have their best offensive performance of the series. Still, Houston would keep answering back, eventually retaking the lead in the seventh and holding on for a 6-5 victory to complete the sweep of the ALCS and advance to their fourth World Series in the last six seasons.
Trading blows early
After a scoreless top of the first, New York put immediate pressure on Lance McCullers Jr. in the home half. They put traffic on the bases with a leadoff single and hit by pitch, and Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres capitalized with back-to-back RBI singles to give New York a 2-0 lead.
The Yankees added another run in the second, getting a leadoff double and then later a two-out RBI double by Anthony Rizzo to put Houston behind 3-0. Houston responded in the top of the third against an ailing Nestor Cortes, who had a disastrous inning, issuing two walks to start things off before Jeremy Peña would tie the game with a three-run blast, chasing Cortes from the game. Cortes exited with a left groin injury that he apparently reaggravated during the inning.
Houston kept their foot on the gas, getting a double and a single to set up Yuli Gurriel for a go-ahead RBI single, making it a 4-3 Astros lead. McCullers Jr. posted his first scoreless inning in the bottom of the third, but in the bottom of the fourth, a one-out single and a passed ball by Martin Maldonado would set up another RBI for Rizzo, a single to tie the game 4-4.
McCullers Jr. would remain on the mound in the fifth, getting through a scoreless frame to finish his night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R (3 earned), 1 BB, 6 K, 100 P.
Astros complete the sweep
Hector Neris started the night for Houston’s bullpen in the bottom of the sixth and, after two quick outs, allowed New York to jump back in front on a solo home run by Harrison Bader. The Astros rallied back in the top of the seventh, taking advantage of a hustle infield single by Jose Altuve and then an error to bring Yordan Alvarez to the plate, who tied the game with an RBI single.
Alex Bregman kept the line moving, getting his own RBI single to put Houston back on top by a run, putting them nine outs away from a series win. Bryan Abreu recorded the first three of those outs, getting through New York in order in the bottom of the seventh on eight pitches.
After Houston went scoreless in the top of the eighth, Rafael Montero tried to send things to the ninth with the one-run lead intact. He would do so with New York going down in order once again. That set up Ryan Pressly to get the save and the final three outs in the ninth, which he would to wrap up the game and the series and move Houston on to the Fall Classic.
News and notes
World Series Game 1: While the time is TBD, Game 1 of the 2022 World Series between the Astros and Phillies will be on Friday, October 28th, at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The pitching matchups are TBD, but Justin Verlander will almost certainly take the ball for the Astros on plenty of rest.
Perfect in the playoffs: With their four-game sweep of the Yankees, the Astros remain undefeated, currently at 7-0 so far in this postseason.