Yankees can join Dodgers in World Series with win in Houston

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate with their tongues outThe New York Yankees are on the cusp of a World Series berth following three wins at home in the ALCS. They will have an opportunity to close out the series in Game 6 on Friday, but to do so they will need to find a way to defeat the Houston Astros in Houston, which has yet to happen in the postseason. The Astros shut New York down in Games 1 and 2, winning both by a 2-1 margin, and unless the Yankees can get their hitting going on the road, it’s Houston who will be representing the American League against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

New York can look to the Dodgers for inspiration on how to win big on the road. Los Angeles clinched its first World Series berth in 29 years with a blowout win at Wrigley Field on Thursday, routing the Chicago Cubs 11-1. Los Angeles wasted no time building a big lead with a 7-0 advantage after three innings, and Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw pitched six strong innings to keep the Cubs at bay.

Houston will be sending one of its aces to the mound for Friday’s Game 6, going with Justin Verlander, who pitched a complete game with 13 strikeouts against the Yankees in Game 2. Verlander has been practically perfect in the postseason for the Astros, and his last game against New York was arguably his strongest performance since he was traded to Houston. But Verlander is up against a Yankees batting order that gained some confidence in the three games since they last met.

Chase Headley didn’t have a hit in the playoffs until Game 3 of the ALCS, but he’s on a bit of a roll now with hits in each of New York’s home games. He went 3-for-4 on Wednesday to help the Yankees to a 5-0 win, and he’s not alone in his offensive outburst. Aaron Judge was struggling to reach base consistently in the postseason, but he has four hits, two home runs, and three walks over the last three games, while Didi Gregorius recovered from going 1-for-8 at the plate in Houston by going 5-for-12 at Yankees Stadium.

The problem with expecting New York’s hitting to continue as the series shifts back to Houston is the difference between the ballparks. Yankees Stadium is known as a hitter’s park, with the highest home run rate in the AL during the season, while Minute Maid Park is less hospitable to the long ball. But Astros players are more than comfortable hitting at their home park, and Jose Altuve, who was 5-for-8 in Games 1 and 2, must be eager to return after failing to record a hit in New York.