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

The Houston Astros are headed 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 accounted for all the necessary scoring as Framber Valdez twirled seven innings, allowing two unearned runs.

The Yankees scraped together their two runs in the fourth inning, with Anthony Rizzo and Gleyber Torres notching RBIs after Valdez botched a ground ball and put runners on second and third.

They threatened again in the late innings, once Valdez and his jaw-dropping curveball had exited. Newly appointed Yankees leadoff man Harrison Bader reached on a walk against Houston reliever Bryan Abreu in the eighth. Next up, Aaron Judge smacked a deep fly ball to right field that was sailing toward flipping the game on its head — but it dropped into Kyle Tucker's glove right up against the wall. Bader tagged up to put the tying run in scoring position, but Abreu blew away Giancarlo Stanton to end the threat.

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

Valdez, who set an MLB record with 25 straight quality starts in a breakout season, pitched almost flawlessly. He threw 40 curveballs, and the Yankees whiffed on 67% of their swings at the plummeting breaker. His one mistake — which led to both Yankees runs — was as a fielder. Fielding a dribbler near the mound, he fumbled the ball attempting to turn two, and wound up flailing and throwing it away to first.

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

It's Bregman's second homer of the postseason, as he has helped carry the Houston offense amid Jose Altuve's baffling hitless streak. The Yankees infield extended it in spectacular fashion 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, has been playing up to those standards again late in the season. He hit .287/.379/.515 with more walks than strikeouts in the second half.

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

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