Clarke Schmidt gives up two homers after producing clutch double play, Yankees lose 4-2 in ALCS Game 1 – The Denver Post


HOUSTON — Less than 24 hours before, the Yankees were sipping champagne. Wednesday night, their clubhouse was quiet. In a whirlwind of a day, the Bombers clinched the American League Division Series, flew halfway across the country and found themselves already in the hole in the Championship Series.

The Astros jumped on the Yankees’ bullpen Wednesday and Justin Verlander dominated the Bombers lineup for a 4-2 win in Game 1 of the ALCS at Minute Maid Park. The Yankees have to hope Game 2 slows down for them with Luis Severino on the mound. Framber Valdez will start for the Astros, who now hold a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven game series.

Verlander gave up a home run to Harrison Bader in the second inning and worked around traffic in the third, but then he was locked in, retiring the last 14 hitters he faced — striking out 11.

With his strikeout of Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the fourth inning, Verlander became the all-time leader in career playoff strikeouts. Verlander finished the night with 219 career postseason strikeouts and he surpassed Clayton Kershaw’s mark of 213 after punching out Kiner-Falefa. The veteran recorded his record eighth postseason double-digit strikeout game on Wednesday night.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Yankees slugger Aaron Judge said of Verlander. “But you gotta move on and when they bring a new pitcher try to jump on them. We tried a little rally there late in the game there in the eighth but [they hit] a couple of homers early on just kind of give them a nice little cushion.”

Jameson Taillon was solid in his outing. In his first ever playoff start, Taillon went 4.1 innings, allowing one earned run on four hits. He walked three and did not record a strikeout. Aaron Boone brought him in to face Jose Altuve and Jeremy Pena in the fifth. He got the Astros second baseman to ground out to first and then Pena hit a scorching ground ball up the third-base line for a double.

The Yankees manager thought he had had enough there and went to Clarke Schmidt.

“I just felt like it was a little bit of a grind for J-Mo there. I thought he competed awesome, made some pitches when he really needed to. He did a good job of limiting damage,” Boone said. “But I just felt like I was kind of in a hitter-to-hitter mode and then Clarke comes in and does a really good job of obviously getting the double play ball to get us out of the [fifth] inning, then just made some two-strike mistakes with the bottom of the order there in that next inning that kind of cost him.”

Those two mistakes ended up in the seats. Yuli Gurriel led off the sixth with a homer off an 0-2 slider and Chas McCormick hit his first career postseason home run off the rookie right-hander. Boone turned to Frankie Montas, who had been shut down with shoulder inflammation on Sept. 6. Montas, making his first postseason appearance as a Yankee and second playoff relief appearance, gave up a 386-foot shot to Pena in the seventh.

Boone has had to rely on his high-leverage relievers heavily through the five-game series with the Guardians that took eight days to finish. So Wednesday, he was hoping these guys would step up and help them pull off a win in less than ideal conditions.

“We knew it was going to be a slog kind of getting through those middle innings. It was good to see Clarke come in in some traffic in as tough a situation as you can be in in the middle of their lineup and get through it. But then the two-strike mistakes hurt him,” Boone said. “Frankie hangs the breaking ball to Pena there. The good thing about it is he answered right back with the heart of their order and I thought executed well.

Then to get Castro in there and have him throw the ball the way he did, that’s, I thought he was really sharp. So that’s encouraging because, look, obviously it’s going to take more than just a few. [Lou] Trivino was great too. I kept him shorter. But it’s going to take more than just a few to get through all of this.”

Anthony Rizzo did jump on the Astros’ bullpen, homering off Rafael Montero with two outs in the eighth. The Bombers had two on after that when Matt Carpenter struck out to end the inning.

The Yankees have to try and turn the page quickly and get back into this.

“Well, I think we just did it a couple of days ago. So I’m not really worried about that aspect,” Rizzo said. “It’s one game, this is a seven-game series and it’s a close game and they came out on top.”



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