MLB playoffs: Astros edge Yankees in ALCS Game 2 to claim 2-0 advantage behind Framber Valdez and Alex Bregman

The Houston Astros head to New York with a 2-0 ALCS lead over the Yankees after narrowly winning Game 2, 3-2. Alex Bregman’s three-run homer was all the scoring needed as Framber Valdez twirled seven innings, allowing two unearned runs.

The Yankees scratched their two runs together in the fourth inning, with Anthony Rizzo and Gleyber Torres scoring RBIs after Valdez missed a ground fly and put the runners up for second and third.

They threatened again in the final innings, once Valdez and his jaw-dropping curveball were out. New Yankees point guard Harrison Bader reached the goal on a walk against Houston reliever Bryan Abreu in the eighth. Then Aaron Judge hit a deep ball to right field that sailed towards flipping the play on his head – but it fell into Kyle Tucker’s glove right against the wall. Bader scored to put the equalizer in goalscoring position, but Abreu blew past Giancarlo Stanton to end the threat.

Josh Donaldson worked a two-out walk in the ninth, but Astros closest Ryan Pressly took out Matt Carpenter to end it.

Valdez, who set an MLB record with 25 straight quality starts in a stellar season, pitched almost perfectly. He threw 40 curveballs and the Yankees felt 67% of their swings at the freefall breaker. His only mistake — which led to the Yankees’ two runs — was as an outfielder. Lineing up a dribbler close to the mound, he fumbled the ball trying to turn two, and ended up flailing and throwing it first.

Yankees starter Luis Severino was almost as good. He struck out six in 5 1/3 innings, but Astros star Alex Bregman threw the three-run homer into the Crawford Boxes in the third.

It’s Bregman’s second home run in the playoffs, as he helped carry Houston’s offense amid Jose Altuve’s confusing no-hitter streak. The Yankees infield extended it dramatically late in Game 2, as Gleyber Torres and rookie shortstop Oswald Peraza turned a circus double play.

Bregman, who finished second in MVP voting in 2019, met those standards again late in the season. He hit .287/.379/.515 with more walks than strikeouts in the second half.

After falling to the Astros in the 2017 and 2019 ALCS, the Yankees return to the Bronx facing a disheartening 2-0 deficit. But they will have Gerrit Cole on the mound in Game 3 on Saturday. The Astros have not announced a starter. Friday is the last scheduled day off in the series.

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