ALCS Game 1: Masahiro Tanaka to start for New York Yankees vs

The Yankees are built for the future thanks to young stars like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez

The Yankees are built for the future thanks to young stars like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez

It was an unavoidable subject for Houston's ace as he prepares to start against them in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series on Friday night. The Dodgers have won more than 90 games and reached the playoffs every year since 2013, but they haven't had a World Series appearance since 1988.

"I've been asked that question like 10 times already", a slightly exasperated Keuchel said.

Still, Bird said the ALDS was an intense series that was a lot of fun - and a great learning experience for this Yankees team with its mix of young and veteran players.

Unlike the pitcher, manager A.J. Hinch didn't shy away from singing Keuchel's praises for his work against the Yankees. Sonny Gray will take the mound for Game 4. But he was quick to point out that Keuchel's success certainly hasn't been limited to games against NY. "I know it's a tough moment for him". "And to be honest with you, when Dallas is right, he's confident against anybody".

"I just couldn't get out of my head: 'I didn't think I'd be here".

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Justin Verlander has a 1.88 ERA in his last nine postseason starts dating back to 2012. Also, they will exact some revenge on Keuchel, who shut them out for six innings and outdueled Tanaka in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium.

The Astros will play the victor of Wednesday's Game 5 between the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians.

"I can recall Masahiro Tanaka saying through his interpreter after Game 3, 'We are going to win Game 4 then go back to Cleveland and take care of business.' It showed enormous confidence even though they were down 1-2".

Verlander may be the one who gets them there. Verlander, who was acquired on August 31, made his first career relief appearance to help eliminate the Red Sox in Game 4 on Monday. Then his next start would be game seven. Tanaka isn't necessarily the best option for the Yankees, especially with his struggles on the road this season, but with the other starters in the rotation working back to full rest, he's the go-to guy for Game 1. Responsible for half of the team's playoff innings so far, the Yankees' relievers have a 2.20 postseason ERA.

Jose Altuve hit for a .346 average in four games against the Red Sox with three home runs and four RBI.

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Bellinger and Austin Barnes homered off Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke while Japan's Darvish gave up one run and struck out seven in five-plus innings.

"He's had some really big starts, his last two starts have been outstanding", Joe Girardi said of Tanaka. They led all of baseball in home runs, have an MVP candidate in Aaron Judge, one of the best bullpens in the game and had the second best run differential in all of baseball. The clubs are far more evenly matched than it appears on the surface, with Houston having scored 38 more runs but NY having allowed 40 fewer.

Altuve has kept up his blistering pace in the postseason, where he's hitting.533 with three homers and four RBIs.

Game 6, at Houston, Friday, Oct. 20, Time TBD.

The 25-year-old Judge isn't daunted by his hard postseason. That Wild Card put them into a completely unpredictable one-and-done game to get to the ALDS. "So just keep playing my game, keep having fun. just contribute any way I can". They won 104 regular-season games, essentially wrapping up home-field advantage through the World Series with several weeks remaining until the start of the playoffs. Left-hander CC Sabathia will start Game 3 when the series moves to NY, and right-hander Sonny Gray will pitch Game 4.

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