HOUSTON – Dallas Keuchel dominated the Yankees again.
The ace lefthander struck out 10 in seven shutout innings to lead the Houston Astros over New York 2-1 on Friday night in the American League Championship Series opener.
Keuchel entered with a 1.24 ERA vs. the Yankees in regular-season starts plus six shutout innings in the 2015 AL wild-card game. Friday, he gave up four hits and one walk while joining Nolan Ryan and Mike Scott as the only Astros to reach double digits in strikeouts in a postseason game.
"It's just a good combination of command and pitchability," said Keuchel, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner. "When I'm behind in the count, I feel just as good as if I'm 0-2. I think that's one of the biggest keys for me recently."
Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit RBI singles in the fourth inning off Masahiro Tanaka, and left fielder Marwin Gonzalez threw out Greg Bird at the plate trying to score on Aaron Judge's two-out single in the fifth.
Bird homered off Ken Giles with two outs in the ninth, but the Houston closer came back by striking out pinch-hitter Jacoby Ellsbury. Giles escaped a two-out jam in the eighth by striking out Didi Gregorius.
Greeted by MVP chants each time up, Jose Altuve had three more hits and, at 11-for-19 (.579), has the most hits in a team's first five playoff games since Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.
After Houston totaled eight runs in the first innings of their four Division Series games with Boston, Tanaka kept the Astros hitless until Altuve's infield single rolled through the pitcher's legs in the fourth. Altuve swiped second before scoring on Correa's single. Gurriel followed with a two-out RBI single, his 10th hit of the postseason.
Bird singled to start the fifth and Matt Holliday reached when Altuve dropped his slow bouncer to second for an error. Keuchel retired the next two batters before Judge singled to left with two outs and the count full.
Gonzalez, throwing with such force that he fell to the ground, made a one-hop throw to catcher Brian McCann, who tagged the sliding Bird at home to end the inning.
"If Bird's safe maybe we really get to [Keuchel] in that inning, but he wasn't," New York manager Joe Girardi said.
Bird didn't appear to get a good break despite running on a 3-2 pitch. The tag was made in a cloud of dust, and the out withstood a video review.
"I wish I was a little faster," Bird said.