HOUSTON -- Jose Altuve drilled a walk-off, two-run home run in the ninth inning to deliver the Houston Astros a heart-stopping 6-4 victory over the visiting New York Yankees on Saturday, clinching the American League Championship Series in six games.
Altuve followed a two-out walk from George Springer with a 407-foot blast to left-center field off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman (0-1). Altuve turned on a 2-1 slider to send the Astros to their second AL pennant in three seasons. Houston will host the Washington Nationals on Tuesday in Game 1 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park.
Trailing 4-2 through eight, the Yankees fashioned a riveting rally against Astros closer Roberto Osuna (1-0) in the ninth inning, starting with a leadoff single from third baseman Gio Urshela.
Two batters later, first baseman DJ LeMahieu won a 10-pitch confrontation, which included fouling off four two-strike pitches. When Osuna left a cutter over the middle of the plate, LeMahieu drilled it the opposite way to right field 351 feet into the first row for a game-tying home run that silenced the crowd.
The Astros took a 3-0 lead in the first, when first baseman Yuli Gurriel drilled the first pitch from Yankees right-hander Chad Green into the Crawford Boxes in left field for a two-out homer that plated Altuve and Alex Bregman. The Astros had been 4-for-40 with runners in scoring position in the ALCS before the Gurriel blast.
Three plays proved pivotal for the Astros after the Gurriel homer. Trailing 3-1 in the third, the Yankees loaded the bases against Houston right-hander Josh James with two outs, with Edwin Encarnacion working a walk.
Right-hander Ryan Pressly entered in relief of James and needed just one pitch to retire Didi Gregorius and stifle the rally. Pressly induced a weak grounder back to him and applied the tag on Gregorius to end the threat.
Pressly re-aggravated the right knee injury that caused him to undergo surgery in August, but his lone pitch of the series finale provided a boost for Houston.
Astros rookie right-hander Jose Urquidy surrendered a solo home run to the second batter he faced in the fourth inning, Urshela, but quickly found a rhythm that he carried into the sixth.
With one out and two runners on in the sixth, Brett Gardner hit a soft liner to right field that Josh Reddick snared with a diving grab. Will Harris replaced Urquidy immediately thereafter and snuffed the threat by inducing a LeMahieu grounder to short.
A critical play unfolded in favor of the Astros with one out in the seventh. With Aaron Judge on first base and one out, Encarnacion blooped a soft liner to left that Michael Brantley snagged on the dive. Brantley then sprang to his feet and fired a dart to Gurriel, who completed the inning-ending double play as Judge fruitlessly tried to scurry back to the bag.
--Field Level Media