Astros edge Yankees for 2-0 lead in MLB playoff series

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Astros edge Yankees for 2-0 lead in MLB playoff series
Astros edge Yankees for 2-0 lead in MLB playoff series
Astros edge Yankees for 2-0 lead in MLB playoff series
AFP
Alex Bregman belted a three-run home run and Framber Valdez pitched seven strong innings Thursday as the Houston Astros beat the New York Yankees 3-2 to take a commanding lead in their Major League Baseball playoff series.

The Astros seized a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series, which will resume on Saturday with game three in New York.

The Yankees have their work cut out at home against a team that has been their nemesis in recent post-seasons. The Astros, in the ALCS for the sixth straight season, have eliminated the Yankees from the playoffs twice in that span, in 2017 and 2019.

On Thursday, Bregman's homer was all the backing Valdez needed. The left-handed hurler struck out nine, his only mistakes fielding errors that allowed the Yankees to score two unearned runs in the fourth inning.

He bobbled a slow ground ball from Giancarlo Stanton then made a wild throw to first, putting runners at first and third.

Anthony Rizzo and Gleyber Torres took advantage, driving in two Yankees runs.

By then, Bregman had already put the Astros ahead, crushing a two-out fastball from Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino 360 feet and over the left-field wall at Minute Maid Park.

It was Bregman’s 14th career post-season homer, but he wasn't aware until after the game that it gave him the most among third baseman ever in the playoffs, surpassing longtime Dodger Justin Turner.

"He's one of the best pitchers in the game and I was just fortunate enough to put a good swing on it," Bregman said.

His blast also scored Manny Maldonado and Yordan Alvarez. Maldonado was hit by a pitch to start the inning and reached third base on Yordan Alvarez's ground ball that saw Jeremy Pena forced out at second.

"All the credit there goes to Yordan hustling out that ground ball," Bregman said. "It was a great team win."

That included the performance of Valdez, and Bregman helped calm the pitcher after his fielding gaffe, saying he told him on the mound "this is the moment right here, you focus right here and you go get these guys and don't let this turn into a big inning."

The Yankees did threaten late against the Astros bullpen. Harrison Bader was walked by Houston relief pitcher Bryan Abreu in the eighth and New York star Aaron Judge then hit a deep fly ball to right field that was travelling toward home run territory before Kyle Tucker snagged it at the wall.

The winner of the series will face either the San Diego Padres or Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series.

The Padres and Phillies are tied 1-1 in the National League Championship Series.

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