Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel quickly bonded.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch says his family got doused with beer by New York Yankee fans.
Lance McCullers knows how to grab a big moment.
Aaron Judge wants to sucker punch the Houston Astros.
Justin Verlander delivered so many huge moments for the Houston Astros this postseason.
Alex Bregman delivered the biggest Astros blows against Red Sox ace Chris Sale and he took Clayton Kershaw deep too. Call him the ace crusher.
Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve are in the center of everything for the Astros.
The Houston Astros did a lap around the field after clinching the American League West. (Photo by Chris Baldwin.)
Houston Astros' division clinch day brought champagne and Budweiser showers — and a sweet Justin Verlander and Kate Upton kiss.
Houston Astros owner Jim Crane keeps a close eye on things in his office at Minute Maid Park. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan.)
NEW YORK — There are tourists who’ve been mugged and conned on the same visit who’ve come out of New York in better shape than the Houston Astros.
The Astros aren’t just upset about getting steamrolled by a combined score of 19-5 in three lost evenings in the Bronx. They’re outraged by the way their families were treated by the worst of the New York Yankee fans — even if they’re largely too polite to say it. Manager A.J. Hinch’s family getting doused with beer is just the tip of it.
“You hear some stuff out there,” Astros centerfielder George Springer says. “I’ll say that. Probably stuff I can’t repeat. Probably stuff I won’t repeat in 20 years. But that’s all right.”
When someone like Springer — a Connecticut kid who grew up rooting for the Yankees no less and understands the mindset — says that, you know it’s beyond crude. Asked if some of the stuff he hears in the outfield is funny, Springer simply shoots back, “No.”
There is no doubt Yankees fans crossed the line — and then some in this series. They’ve treated the line between right and wrong like Walter White does.
“There’s things I want to say on that, that I won’t say,” Astros outfielder Josh Reddick says.
These Astros are outraged and enraged. But now they have to find a way to funnel that anger into one of the more improbable series reversals in recent sports memory. For everyone’s looking at them as a dead team walking at the moment. From up 2-0 to down 3-2 in a New York thunder. From in command to every pitcher on their roster (even Dallas Keuchel in this latest 5-0 Game 5 loss) except Justin Verlander on their roster looking suspect.
It’s all on Justin Verlander now — the series, the World Series hopes, the entire magical Astros season. After Game 5 is over, Verlander pulls on his suit jacket with an almost cowboy flourish. Then, he stops in the middle of the clubhouse for a few minutes, scribbling a few notes on a small piece of paper.
Springer looks over, in the middle of his own interviews, and seems to take note. This is a man already preparing for the crucible of a Game 6 elimination game.
“We’re going back home in front of our fans with the Big Verlander on the mound,” Astros third baseman Alex Bregman says. “It’s get up and go time. It’s big. It’s going to be… It’s going to be a dog fight.”
Whether all these young Astros are up to the fight won’t become apparent for sure until Friday night. This is the first elimination game these Astros have faced all season.
Lost in the Yankees’ Bronx Zoo
The Astros took a big blow in New York that shook them to their core. Veteran Yoda sage Carlos Beltran felt the need to address the team and tell them to stop worrying and just play.
No one expected this Bronx nightmare.
“I would say if you asked everybody here if we’d lose three in a row at any point this season, everybody would say no,” Keuchel says. “That’s just how good we’ve been.”
Now, the Astros offense looks plain bad — nine runs total in five games this series. It’s almost hard to recognize this team flailing away in New York.
Maybe this is just another heartbreaking step these Astros need to go through on the way to building toward winning a World Series. Just like the gut-wrenching divisional series giveaway against Kansas City in 2015.
The best offense in the league is pressing, swinging at pitches outside the strike zone. Carlos Correa, the 23-year-old shortstop who drives much of what these Astros do, seems to be in a particular funk.
And everyone can feel it.
“The most frustrating part is I didn’t pick the guys up,” Keuchel says, the Yankee killer who melts into just another struggling Astros pitcher on a warm night in the Bronx Zoo. “They were sort of looking to me to saddle up and get this going.”
Now, Verlander is the last cowboy standing between the Astros and a long winter of soul searching.
The one-man approach hasn’t exactly worked for Houston so far.
“We have to stop trying to do everything ourselves,” Reddick says. “We’re a great ball club.”
They’re also on the ropes, wobbling more than Mike Tyson in Tokyo.
The Astros weren’t just beaten in New York. They were mauled, humiliated a bit, mocked and offended by truly over-the-line venom.
No one wants to leave New York like this. Do the Astros have enough fight to make the Yankees pay for it?