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Old 10-05-2015, 06:20 PM   #1
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Keuchel named Astros starter for wild card game versus Yankees

A look at the American League wild-card game between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees:


Schedule: Tuesday, at New York, 8:08 p.m. EDT (ESPN).


Season Series: Astros won 4-3.


Projected Lineups:

Astros: 2B Jose Altuve (.313, 15, 66, 40 2Bs, 38 SBs, 200 hits), RF George Springer (.276, 16, 41, 16 SBs), SS Carlos Correa (.279, 22, 68, 22 2Bs), DH Evan Gattis (.246, 27, 88, 11 3Bs), LF Colby Rasmus (.238, 25, 61, 23 2Bs), CF Carlos Gomez (.255, 12 HRs, 56 RBIs, 29 2Bs, 17 SBs with Brewers and Astros) or Jake Marisnick (.236, 9, 36, 24 SBs), 3B Jed Lowrie (.222, 9, 30), 1B Chris Carter (.199, 24, 64), C Jason Castro (.211, 11, 31).

Yankees: CF Jacoby Ellsbury(.257, 7, 33, 21 SBs), LF Chris Young (.252, 14, 42, .327 avg. against lefties), RF Carlos Beltran (.276, 19, 67), DH Alex Rodriguez (.250, 33, 86, 83 runs, .356 OBP), C Brian McCann (.232, 26, 94), 3B Chase Headley (.259, 11, 62, 23 errors), 1B Greg Bird (.261, 11, 31 in 157 ABs), SS Didi Gregorius (.265, 9, 56), 2B Rob Refsnyder (.302, 2, 5 in 43 at-bats).


Starting Pitchers:

Astros: LH Dallas Keuchel (20-8, 2.48 ERA, 216 Ks).

Yankees: RH Masahiro Tanaka (12-7, 3.51, 139 Ks in in 154 innings, 25 HRs allowed).


Astros: RH Luke Gregerson (7-3, 3.10, 31/36 saves), RH Chad Qualls (3-4, 4.04, 4 saves), LH Tony Sipp (3-4, 1.99, 62 Ks in 54 1-3 innings), RH Will Harris (5-5, 1.90, 2 saves), LH Oliver Perez (2-4, 4.28 with Arizona and Houston) RH Vince Velasquez (1-1, 4.37), RH Josh Fields (4-1, 3.55).

Yankees: LH Andrew Miller (3-2, 2.04, 36/38, 100 Ks in 61 2-3 innings), RH Dellin Betances (6-4, 1.50, 9/13, 131 Ks in 84 innings), RH Andrew Bailey (0-1, 8.31, 10 games; missed all last season after shoulder surgery); LH Chasen Shreve (6-2, 3.09), LP Justin Wilson (5-0, 3.10, 74 games), RP Adam Warren (7-7, 3.29, 43 appearances -- 17 starts), LH CC Sabathia (6-10, 4.73 in 29 starts),  RH Luis Severino (5-3, 2.89, 11 starts).



The Astros won two of three in New York, including a 15-1 rout on Aug. 25. ... Keuchel got two wins over the Yankees this season and didn't allow a run in either game. The first one was a six-hitter on June 25. He allowed three hits in seven scoreless innings in the 15-1 victory. He struck out 21 combined in those two starts. ... The Astros hit eight homers against the Yankees this season, led by three from Gattis. ... Houston teed off on Tanaka in its one matchup against the Japanese star, scoring six runs in five innings of a 9-6 loss at Minute Maid Park. Carter, Correa and Altuve all homered in the game. ... The Yankees were 9 for 48 (.188) with one extra base hit -- a double -- against Keuchel this year. ... Young should push All-Star Brett Gardner to the bench because he is 6 for 20 (.300) with two doubles and a triple off Keuchel. ... Young batted .327 (50 for 153) with a .397 on-base percentage against lefties this season, boosted by an early tear. ... Switch-hitting Beltran, a former Astros postseason star, is 4 for 9 (.444) with a homer vs. Keuchel. ... The Yankees were 7-5 with a .253 batting average with 14 homers and 45 RBIs against starting pitchers they were facing for a third time this season, STATS said. They will be facing Keuchel for a third time. New York hit .251 overall this season.


Big Picture:

Astros: Houston (86-76) made the playoffs for the first time since reaching the World Series in 2005, getting in as the second wild card on the last day of the season. ... The Astros made a 16-game improvement from last year's 70-92 season that came after three straight 100-loss seasons. ... Houston led the AL West for most of the season before late-season struggles allowed the Rangers to take the division title. ... The Astros finished second in the majors with 230 home runs. ... Keuchel is expected to pitch on three days' rest for the first time after winning his 20th game on Friday night. He was the AL's only 20-game winner and the first Houston pitcher to reach the mark since Roy Oswalt in 2005. ... Houston's pitching staff posted an AL-best 3.57 ERA. ... The Astros struggled on the road, going 33-48. ... Correa, the top overall pick in the 2012 draft, set a franchise record for home runs for a rookie with 22 despite not being called up until June 8. His 22 home runs were the most by an AL rookie and led all AL shortstops. ... Carter, who lost his starting job late in the season, returned to the lineup in mid-September and got hot, batting .326 with an .837 slugging percentage and six homers and 12 RBIs in his last 15 games.

Yankees: In the playoffs for first time in three years, using a combination of veterans and young players to exceed expectations in the first season of the post-Derek Jeter era. ... New York (87-75) had a seven-game lead in the AL East on July 28 but went 30-33 down the stretch and was overtaken by Toronto. ... The Yankees lost six of seven to end the season, going 11 for 68 (.161) with runners in scoring position. ... Rodriguez was a surprise catalyst for the Yankees' offensive revival early in his return from a yearlong drug suspension but has slowed in the last two months. ... Bird has filled in nicely for Mark Teixeira, who was having a stellar comeback season before breaking his leg in mid-August. ... Gregorius has played stellar defense as Jeter's replacement at shortstop. ... The 21-year-old Severino would be on his normal throw day so he could provide a one- or two-inning bridge to Betances. ... The bullpen set a record for strikeouts by relievers in a season with 593. ... With Stephen Drew sidelined by dizziness, Refsnyder has made eight starts since Sept. 24, hitting .393 (11 for 28) with three doubles, a homer and three RBIs.

Watch For:

-- Aggressive baserunning. The Astros topped the AL with 121 stolen bases, led by Altuve's 38, which also led the AL. Marisnick, who often comes in as a pinch runner when not in the starting lineup, is second on the team with 24. But sometimes their approach on the basepaths doesn't pay off. Altuve also leads the AL by being caught stealing 13 times and Marisnick is tied for third with nine.

-- Top of the order. During the first half of the season Ellsbury, Gardner and A-Rod carried the offense, along with Teixeira, who is out for the season. Gardner made the All-Star team and Rodriguez was one of the biggest stories in baseball. But Ellsbury has slumped to a .220 average with five homers and 23 RBIs since the July break. Gardner has been even worse, hitting .206 with six homers and 24 RBIs. The 40-year-old Rodriguez slugged his way into the No. 3 spot in the order. However, he's only connected once in his last 18 games and has hit .186 with nine homers since Aug. 7, when his swoon began.

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