Girardi led the Yankees back from a two-game American League Division Series hole against the Cleveland Indians, and he is now ready to pull off another upset against the Astros.
Don't be misled by the teams" regular-season win totals - 101 for the "Stros, 91 for the Yanks. New York's offense didn't have a standout performance like Houston, but the league's second-highest scoring team showed how unsafe it can be against baseball's best pitching staff.
The most important thing of the night: Will the Judge be back in session?
Andrew Benintendi hit a game-tying two-run homer in the fifth inning and Xander Bogaerts smacked his first career playoff homer, a solo blast in the first, for the Red Sox.
Tanaka pitched a stellar outing in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Indians when the Yankees were facing elimination. Surely, the Astros were taking notes.
Game 6, at Houston, Friday, Oct. 20, Time TBD. Alex Wood had a sub-3.00 ERA in the regular season, and L.A. added a second ace when they traded for Yu Darvish. It is still uncertain if he will get an 11th year as the Yankees skipper. The then National League Astros won the World Series that season. But the arrow is pointing upward for both franchises, which are here in large part because of a core of young players that is controllable for the next few seasons.
This is somewhat surprising as McHugh was left off the team's ALDS roster. While the Yanks were embarking on their improbable comeback against the Indians, the Astros were at home eating popcorn. Chris Sale just gave up his third. The Astros have homefield advantage against the Yankees. He defeated the Yankees in the 2015 AL Wild Card game with six scoreless innings. Gonzalez only hit.200 in the ALDS, but he'll get more pitches to hit than those further up the lineup and a clutch hit or two could turn the tide of the series.
"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 huge confidence even though they were down 1-2".
The matchup that matters most: It's the postseason, so the bullpens will be a series-long storyline.
Both Bregman and Giles had to work very hard to get to where they are today, but they believe that even though they are just two of the three New Mexico-bred players in the Major League Baseball, more will come.
Houston announced earlier in the week that left-hander Dallas Keuchel was its Game 1 starter. Yankees hitters are 19-for-103 (.184) with four walks and 35 strikeouts against him. Kershaw still has to prove he can get the job done in October, pitching to the worst ERA of anyone that's made at least 12 playoff starts. "I'm not concerned. I think they're in a good state mentally". But that could also mean that they're ripe for a Game 1 letdown. He got a win as a starter and one in relief against Boston, giving up three runs in 8 2/3 innings.
But Tanaka didn't survive the second inning May 14 against the Astros, who just got through knocking around Red Sox starting pitching for 16 runs in 11⅔ innings over four games.