dallas keuchel houston astros The New York Yankees and the Astros begin their American League Championship Series in Houston this evening.

Masahiro Tanaka, who was fabulous in game three of the A.L.D.S against the Cleveland Indians, takes the mound for the Yankees against Houston’s Dallas Keuchel.

Keuchel has dominated the Yankees. In his career he’s 4-2 and as has an ERA of 1.41 in six regular-season starts against them. That’s the lowest ERA against the Yankees among all MLB active starters.

Keuchel has amassed 45 strikeouts against only six walks over 44.2 innings vs. New York. The Astros hope Keuchel’s success against the Bronx Bombers will give them a pitching advantage to punch their ticket to the World Series.

Although the Yankees deserve credit for beating a Cleveland Indians team that had a 5-2 record against them, won 102 regular season games and had a winning streak of 22 games, they will have to get ready to tackle a bigger challenge in the Astros.

The Astros also had a 5-2 record against the Yankees during the regular season and also ended the season with more than 100 games (101). They have a great offense top to bottom and have the luxury of counting with Keuchel and 2011 Cy Young winner Justin Verlander atop of their rotation.

It would not be surprising to see the Astros winning this series in six games because as amazing their elimination of the Indians was, you have to wonder how much gas in the tank they have left as they face a team as solid as the Astros.

Short term, namely game 1, the biggest problem for the Yankees will be how Tanaka performs against the Astros because he’s struggled badly against them.

On May 14 at Yankee Stadium, the Astros ripped into Tanaka for eight runs and seven hits in 1.2 innings on the way to a 10-7 win. It was the only time Tanaka faced the Astros during the regular season.

The difference between Houston and Cleveland is that the Astros basically have proved that they have the talent to jump on you early like they did against the Red Sox and then they can keep adding on. It will be interesting to see if the Yankees can continue to perform as brilliantly as they have this year and keep the game close when the Yankees start a game trailing early.

The Yankees lineup may not be as talented from top to bottom, but they do have power and skill to at least compete with the Astros.

These two teams finished ranked one and two in runs scored (896 Yankees and 858 Astros). The Yankees also had the most homers in the regular season with 241, followed closely by Houston with 238. As for RBIs, the Astros were first with 854 and the Yankees second with 821.

No matter who advances there is no doubt that this will an interesting heavy-hitting series where brilliant pitching performance may be few and far between.


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