MLB Playoffs: Yanks-Astros open ALCS; Phils lead SD in NLCS


The Associated Press



An empty bottle of champagne sits on home plate after the New York Yankees defeated the Cleveland Guardians in Game 5 of an American League Division baseball series, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

An empty bottle of champagne sits on home plate after the New York Yankees defeated the Cleveland Guardians in Game 5 of an American League Division baseball series, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)


New York Yankees Aaron Judge sprays champagne while celebrating with teammates after the Yankees defeated the Cleveland Guardians in Game 5 of an American League Division baseball series, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)


Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, right, jokes with catcher Martin Maldonado during a practice ahead of Game 1 of baseball's American League Championship Series, in Houston, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)


Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and their teammates hardly had time to party at Yankee Stadium. They had a game to play in Houston, and soon.

Judge and Stanton hit home runs as the New York Yankees beat the Cleveland Guardians 5-1 Tuesday in the deciding Game 5 of the AL Division Series.

The last out, which Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres punctuated by cradling the ball to mimic the “rock the baby” motion Cleveland’s Josh Naylor used after homering a night earlier off Gerrit Cole, came shortly before 7:30 p.m. in New York.

That meant the Yankees had less than 24 hours before playing Game 1 of the AL Championship Series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday night.

“The challenge is we’re facing a great team,” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “As far as the quick turnaround, we’ll be fine. That’s baseball. We do that all the time. We’ll walk in there with some confidence. We know they are great team and rested and ready.”

The matchup will feature the top two teams in the AL in the 106-win Astros and the 99-win Yankees — they seemed to be on a collision course for this ALCS rematch all season. Houston won the regular-season series 5-2.

Houston beat the Yankees in the 2019 ALCS when Jose Altuve hit a bottom-of-the-ninth home run off Aroldis Chapman in Game 6. The Astros topped the Yankees in the 2017 ALCS in seven games and went on to their only World Series — it was a title that has since been tainted after the Astros were found to have illicitly stolen signs that season.

Altuve, a three-time batting champion, went 0 for 16 in Houston’s three-game sweep of Seattle in the ALDS. The star second baseman hit .300 with 28 homers in the regular season.

“This guy’s been good for a long time,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Sometimes it’s not always up. Sometimes, no matter how great you are, sometimes there are down times … but I’m expecting big things out of Altuve. Because he expects big things out of himself.”

Here’s what else to know about the MLB playoffs Wednesday:

WEDNESDAY’S SCHEDULE (All times ET)

NLCS Game 2: Philadelphia at San Diego, 4:35 p.m., FOX

ALCS Game 1: New York Yankees at Houston, 7:37 p.m., TBS

OH, BROTHER!

They say that Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love, and that will be on full display when the Phillies take a 1-0 edge over the Padres into Game 2 of the NLCS.

Aaron Nola is set to pitch for the Phils. One of the batters the right-handed ace will face is his older brother, San Diego catcher Austin Nola.

The Nolas will be the sixth set of brothers to play against each other in the postseason, and first since Baltimore’s Roberto and Cleveland’s Sandy Alomar Jr. in the 1997 AL Division Series.

This will be the third big league game where 29-year-old Aaron and 32-year-old Austin have opposed each other on the field. In 2021, Aaron struck out his brother; last June, Austin hit an RBI single off his sibling in a 1-0 win.

This time, one of them is going to the World Series and the other is headed home.

“I don’t even want to think about the feeling or anything like that,” Austin said.

The Nolas grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and were coached by their father, A.J. Dad will wears jerseys of both teams, mom Stacie prefers to avoid either team’s colors.

YOU AGAIN?

Bryce Harper was a smash in his return to Petco Park, hitting his fourth home run this postseason in the Phillies’ 2-0 win over the Padres in Game 1 of the NLCS.

In his previous game at San Diego, the two-time NL MVP’s left thumb was broken when he was hit by a pitch from Padres lefty Blake Snell on June 25, sidelining Harper for two months.

Harper joined Gary Matthews (1983) as the only Phillies players to homer in three straight postseason games in the same year.

Now, Harper will try to extend the streak in Game 2 when he faces Snell.

Harper, trying to reach his first World Series, has hit nine home runs in 26 career postseason games.

HE’S OUT

Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks is out for the rest of the postseason after hurting his left knee in a collision with rookie shortstop Oswaldo Cabrera.

Hicks went to a hospital for an MRI after hobbling off Tuesday in Game 5 of the AL Division Series against Cleveland. He said it takes six weeks to recover from his injury.

“I want to be a part of it and I’m now no longer going to be able to play on the field to help this team win,” Hicks said.

Hicks and Cabrera were pursuing Steven Kwan’s pop fly near the left-field line when they knocked into each other. The ball appeared to glance off the glove of each fielder and fell for a single. before falling for a single that put runners at first and second with one out.

Hicks was down on the ground for a few moments before limping to the dugout.

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An empty bottle of champagne sits on home plate after the New York Yankees defeated the Cleveland Guardians in Game 5 of an American League Division baseball series, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/10/web1_129957523-7b332f25d38d431d8149924b322ddfab.jpgAn empty bottle of champagne sits on home plate after the New York Yankees defeated the Cleveland Guardians in Game 5 of an American League Division baseball series, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

New York Yankees Aaron Judge sprays champagne while celebrating with teammates after the Yankees defeated the Cleveland Guardians in Game 5 of an American League Division baseball series, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/10/web1_129957523-8fd6383c491040128ce9cf712235f909.jpgNew York Yankees Aaron Judge sprays champagne while celebrating with teammates after the Yankees defeated the Cleveland Guardians in Game 5 of an American League Division baseball series, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, right, jokes with catcher Martin Maldonado during a practice ahead of Game 1 of baseball’s American League Championship Series, in Houston, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/10/web1_129957523-d57bc7c99e924fa798b326e46e7687b1.jpgHouston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, right, jokes with catcher Martin Maldonado during a practice ahead of Game 1 of baseball’s American League Championship Series, in Houston, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The Associated Press