Home or away, the Yankees had no chance against Dallas Keuchel this year. As a result, they're home for the rest of 2015.
Helpless against the Astros ace lefthander over six innings, the Yankees, returning to the playoffs after a two-year absence, fell, 3-0, to the Astros Tuesday night in the AL wild-card game. A sellout Stadium crowd of 50,113 made a lot of noise early in the night but steadily quieted as the zeros mounted.
Starting on three days' rest for the first time in his career, Keuchel, 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA this season, allowed three hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. He extended his scoreless streak against the Yankees this season to 22 innings in three starts.
Astros lefthander Tony Sipp pitched a scoreless seventh inning and righthander Will Harris threw a scoreless eighth, with pinch hitter Jacoby Ellsbury, the $153-million centerfielder benched against Keuchel, popping to short to end the inning and drawing boos from the crowd. As Brett Gardner, 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, did a batter before when he grounded out.
Righthander Luke Gregerson pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.
Masahiro Tanaka, the $155-million pitcher making the biggest start of his career in pinstripes, spoke confidently about facing the Astros for a second time this season.
On the eve of his biggest start as a Yankee, Tanaka spoke confidently about facing the Astros for a second time this season.
"I wasn't at my best during that particular time,'' Tanaka said through his translator of his outing June 27 in Houston, in which he allowed six runs in five innings. "This time around it's going to be different.''
It was, but only by degrees.
The righthander, who allowed three home runs in Texas, surrendered two Tuesday night, putting his team in a 2-0 hole.
Tanaka, who battled control issues throughout his five innings, allowed two runs, four hits and three walks.
Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Chris Carter went deep against Tanaka in Houston. This time it was Colby Rasmus, in the second inning, and Carlos Gomez, in the fourth.
Dellin Betances walked Carter with one out in the seventh. After pinch runner Jonathan Villar stole second with two outs, Altuve reached across the plate and dumped an 0-and-1 curveball to left to make it 3-0.
Sipp came on for the seventh and walked Chase Headley with one out. He struck out rookie Greg Bird looking before rookie Rob Refsnyder flew to right.
Tanaka's most impressive inning was his first. He fell behind leadoff hitter Altuve 2-and-0 before coming back to strike him out on a full-count fastball. He struck out George Spring swinging at a slider and got Correa to fly to center.
The Yankees put a runner in scoring position in a 19-pitch first. After Keuchel struck out Gardner looking, Chris Young, 6-for-20 vs. Keuchel coming in, worked a walk. Carlos Beltran's groundout to third moved up Young but Keuchel struck out Alex Rodriguez looking.
Rasmus put the Astros ahead in the second, a 22-pitch inning that could have been far worse for Tanaka. Rasmus, who hit 25 homers during the season, led off by reaching down and pulling a 94-mph fastball deep into the bleachers in right. After Gardner made a running catch against the wall of Evan Gattis' drive to right-center and Gomez grounded to third, Luis Valbuena singled to center. Carter and Jason Castro walked, but Altuve bounced into a 5-4 force.