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Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka Silence Astros to Win Game 5 of ALCS

The Yankees rode another fantastic outing from Masahiro Tanaka to take a 3–2 series lead over the Astros. They are now one win from the World Series.

The Yankees surged to their third consecutive win with a dominant 5–0 win over the Astros on Wednesday night in the Bronx. New York now leads the series 3–2 and heads to Houston for Game 6, where it will have a chance to clinch its first World Series berth since 2009.

1. Where did the offense go?

The Astros hardly resemble the force that broke a host of Major League batting records, instead looking like a feeble group ill-equipped to conquer the Yankees starting pitching. The batting averages are dreadful across the batting order. Leadoff hitter George Springer's average rose to just .111 even with a bloop single on Wednesday night. Rightfielder Josh Reddick remains hitless in the ALCS. Third baseman Alex Bregman is hitting .125. Outside of first baseman Yulieski Gurriel, who is 13 for his last 34, the Astros offense is lost against a Yankees pitching staff that was supposed to be the team's weak spot. 

The biggest problem might be Houston's ability to score early. The Astros were the leaders in the majors in batting average the first time through the order. As Tom Verducci noted during the broadcast, the Astros sunk to .077 the first time through the order during Game 5.

Houston now has seven runs in five games of this series. It scored eight in Game 1 against the Red Sox when Chris Sale was the starting pitcher. If A.J. Hinch's club can't awaken its bats, it will miss out on the team's first pennant since 2005.

2. The Yankees finally overcame Dallas Keuchel.

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Entering Game 5, Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel had been the Yankees' worst nightmare. He held a career ERA under 2 against New York, memorably silenced the Yankees in the 2015 AL Wild Card Game, and outdueled Masahiro Tanaka in Game 1 to win the ALCS opener. Only one player (Chase Headley) even had more than one career hit against the Astros' bearded wonder. 

On Wednesday, the Yankees finally broke through. It started with a second-inning RBI single from Greg Bird, continued with an Aaron Judge laser down the third-base line that scored Brett Gardner, and continued with RBI singles from Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius in the fifth inning. 

Keuchel's final line was 4 2/3 innings with seven hits and four earned runs, his shortest start since August 8th against the White Sox. 

3. Masahiro Tanaka was outstanding

Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka was the star of Wednesday night, tossing seven innings of three-hit shutout baseball with eight strikeouts and just one walk. He's now allowed just two earned runs over 20 innings pitched in the 2017 postseason. Tanaka invites plenty of fawning praise, but sometimes it's just better to watch. Check out this splitter against Josh Reddick.

Or this one against Marwin Gonzalez.

When he is in rhythm, he is one of the most electric pitchers in baseball. On Wednesday night, he showed it.