The Yankees finally got to Astros RHP Dallas Keuchel, hitting him hard on Wednesday as they moved within one win of their first World Series appearance since 2009.
Keuchel, who tossed seven scoreless innings in Game 1, allowed four runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out eight in 4 2/3 innings on Wednesday.
After the game, Keuchel admitted the Yankee Stadium crowd was a factor.
"New York is no joke. Yankee Stadium is a tough place to play," Keuchel said, according to Kristie Ackert of the NY Daily News. "And it was rocking these three games. But it's going to be rocking Friday for us."
The ALCS shifts back to Houston for Game 6 on Friday night, and -- if necessary -- Game 7 on Saturday night.
"Most frustrating point is I didn't pick the guys up," Keuchel added. "They were looking to me to saddle up and get this thing going again," Keuchel said. "Seems like they made the necessary adjustments and put the ball in the right spots. When you play at home, things like this happen. That's why it's so hard to win on the road in the playoffs."
Home field advantage cannot be understated. It's the reason teams battle until the end of the regular season, knowing full well that if they have home field advantage in the playoffs, it could mean the difference in winning the series.
It's not often that an opposing player flat out admits that the atmosphere of a ballpark affected his play, but the difference between the fans now and since the new Yankee Stadium opened is undeniable. Yankee Stadium is finally sounding like the one that was demolished after the 2008 season. Even in 2009, when the Yankees won the World Series in the new stadium's inaugural season, there was a feel that the crowd was not nearly the emotional equivalent as witnessed in "The House that Ruth Built."
The difference? In my view, it's the exciting moments the players are capable of producing via long home runs and high-octane fastballs. It's the understanding that the Yankees were not expected to be in the playoffs this season, let alone be on the brink of a World Series appearance. This Yankees club is one that the fans can fully invest in -- one that will have a tight and talented core for the next several years. All of those factors provide plenty to cheer long and hard about.