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Astros Tie ALCS, Costly Bullpen Decision Ends Up Dooming Yankees In Extra Innings

HOUSTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Yankees had Houston exactly where they wanted them Sunday night -- with their bullpen on the mound, winning a game against Justin Verlander.

In a call that may haunt New York for the rest of the AL Championship Series, manager Aaron Boone pulled another dominating pitcher from the mound -- but unlike Game 1 -- that decision ended with a stinging extra inning loss.

Carlos Correa hit a leadoff home run in the 11th inning and the Houston Astros won a battle of the bullpens, beating the Yankees 3-2 Sunday night to tie the ALCS at one game apiece.

The slumping Correa, who earlier hit an RBI double and made a sensational play at shortstop, connected for an opposite-field shot to right off J.A. Happ.

That game-winning shot came hours after George Springer tied Game 2 in the fifth with a home run on the first pitch from reliever Adam Ottavino. With New York leading 2-1 and Chad Green dominating the Astros lineup through two perfect innings, Boone shockingly called for the struggling Ottavino -- who had already been pulled from two games in the ALDS for failing to throw strikes.

He immediately served up the homer on a hanging slider.

Green had come in relief for starter James Paxton, who struggling again and didn't survive the third inning.

The Yankees tied a League Championship Series record by using nine pitchers. The eight relievers had permitted only one run and two hits with 11 strikeouts before Correa homered, ending a game that took 4 hours, 49 minutes and ended right around 1 a.m. Eastern Time.

Houston's five relievers combined for 4 1/3 innings of one-hit shutout ball after taking over for Justin Verlander. Going into this best-of-seven series, the Yankees were considered the better team in the bullpen — the Astros amply held their own in this one.

"Our bullpen was nasty, gave us a chance to win the game," Correa said.

Gary Sánchez struck out looking to end the Yankees 11th with runners on first and second. The pitch appeared outside — it came right after he swung and missed with two strikes, but was ruled a foul ball.

Despite the bad call, Sánchez's struggles go far beyond the umpire's strike zone as the catcher is now hitting a meager 2-for-17 in the 2019 postseason.

"It was a struggle tonight," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "They're tough to score runs off, especially on a night when Verlander is out there."

Aaron Judge hit a two-run homer off Verlander that put the Yankees ahead 2-1 in the fourth. George Springer tied it in the fifth with a home run on the first pitcher after reliever Adam Ottavino entered.

Yankees OF Aaron Judge
Yankees slugger Aaron Judge hits a two-run home run in the fourth inning against the Houston Astros during Game 2 American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on Oct. 13, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Along with his bat, Correa made the key play in the field to keep it tied at 2 in the sixth. With runners at first and second, and on the move on a full-count pitch with two outs, Brett Gardner hit a hard grounder that bounced off second baseman José Altuve for a single.

The ball bounded away and Correa quickly retrieved it and threw a strike to catcher Robinson Chirinos, who tagged out the sliding DJ LeMahieu.

Yankees-Astros ALCS Game 2
The Yankees' DJ LeMahieu, right, is tagged out at home plate by Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos during the sixth inning of Game 2 of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on Oct. 13, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

New York lost for the first time this postseason after four wins.

Game 3 is Tuesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Gerrit Cole, who is 18-0 in his last 24 starts and led the majors in strikeouts, starts for the Astros against Luis Severino.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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