“Bury it, move on to the next one.” That’s what you hear from players and managers alike after a tough loss or even a big win. This is to keep from getting too high on the idea of momentum.
A lot of people don’t believe in momentum. Babe Ruth once said, “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.” He’s not wrong, dingers don’t carry over, but the energy created from the win from those dingers sure can.
Trailing 2-0 in the American League Championship Series, the New York Yankees took the air out of the sails of the Houston Astros with a massive Game 3 win, then went on to win the next two games. This all in three-straight days.
With a travel day between Games 5 and 6, the Astros had a chance to level out the Yankees’ momentum and take advantage of home field Friday night. Coming home to the friendly confines of Minute Maid Park paid huge dividends for the Astros, as they nearly doubled their run output for the entire series with a 7-1 win.
It would be incorrect to say that the series momentum has shifted entirely to the Astros with the win. Houston was a heavy favorite in game 6 with pitcher Justin Verlander starting for Houston. He tossed another gem (as expected) with eight strikeouts and no walks over seven shutout innings. In addition to Verlander getting Houston pitching back on track, middle infielders Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa woke up offensively and combined for 4-for-8 in Game 6 after going 2-for-22 in New York. Altuve led the Astros as he drove in three runs behind two hits Friday night.
A dominating performance like Verlander’s doesn’t necessarily kill the momentum the Yankees had from the three home games in the series. With an elite pitcher on the mound, the best New York could have hoped to do was hold serve, which they did with seven hits, including an Aaron Judge solo shot.
Game 7 should be a thriller. The Yankees will trot out CC Sabathia, while Houston will start Charlie Morton. The last time this pair met, the Yankees roughed up Morton for seven runs in just three and two-thirds innings.
With no tomorrow for the loser, expect both pitchers to be on a short leash. Yes, Yankees reliever David Robertson got roughed up in Game 6 to the tune of four runs on four hits. But, through game 5, the New York bullpen was more dominant and allowed four runs compared to eight allowed by the Houston bullpen.
Everything is even heading into Game 7. The Astros leveled momentum when they leveled the series. With Sabathia on the mound against the offensive juggernaut that has finally woken in Houston, Game 7 will not disappoint.