NEW YORK — The Yankees kept their season alive Friday night, leaving the Bronx Bombers and the Astros scrambling to get to the airport to fly to Houston for Game 6, set to begin in less than 22 hours after the last out.
The Yankees win also left both managers scrambling to formulate a pitching plan for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. Neither Astros manager A.J. Hinch or Yankees manager Aaron Boone discussed a possible plan, leaving the strategies unsettled at the conclusion of the Yankees’ 4-1 victory in Game 5 at Yankee Stadium, to get the series to 3-2 in favor of Houston.
It won’t be Gerrit Cole, who has not lost a start since May 22, for the Astros. It won’t be Luis Severino for the Yankees.
Instead, the fate of Game 6 will be decided by the bullpens.
Bullpen vs. bullpen.
“It will be a bullpen game,” said Hinch in his postgame press conference. “We’ll talk about it on the plane ride home. … I’m unlikely to use Cole.”
Boone didn’t mince his words either. “Sevy’s set for Game 7,” he said. “We’ll just figure it out. … But it will probably be a little bit of everyone.”
There was no travel day in between Game 5 and 6. Rain postponed Wednesday’s game, creating the potential of having to play four consecutive games without an off-day.
The Yankees bullpen has been taxed this postseason, throwing nearly as many innings as the starters (35 ⅔ vs. 37 ⅓) over eight games. No starter has gone more than seven innings in a postseason game. Meanwhile, the Astros’ starters have gone at least seven innings in all but two of their 10 playoff games.
So, who is available for Game 6? The Yankees may turn to J.A. Happ to start on short rest before going to the bullpen. The Astros are expected to go with rookie Jose Urquidy. The Astros have a fully rested bullpen. Brad Peacock was the only reliever used in Game 5, and he only pitched one inning. The Yankees did not use relievers Adam Ottavino or Chad Green on Friday, and Zack Britton had a low pitch count. So it will be an all-hands-on-deck approach Saturday.
This is basically what Game 4 would have looked like if it was played on Wednesday.
All that is known for certain is that if there is a Game 7, Cole will be going to for the Astros while Severino starts for the Yankees.
What does that say about the state of the game of baseball where it come down to a Game 6 of the ALCS and both teams are going with a bullpen game, rather than a traditional starter?
“I think it’s both teams trying to get outs and trying to do it the best way we can,” said Boone. “We’ve had some – obviously a lot of guys go down this year and different people not available.
“We’ll just do our best to piece it together.”