But New York's bullpen buckled in the 11th inning when Carlos Correa led off with a home run off J.A. Happ, the Yankees' ninth pitcher, to give the Houston Astros a 3-2 win Sunday that tied the AL Championship Series at one game apiece.
On a night when starter James Paxton lasted just 2 1/3 innings and 51 pitches, Yankees manager Aaron Boone treated the third inning like he would the sixth during the regular season.
"Just felt like we were covered as far as today with getting some length and having guys rested. Obviously going into an off day tomorrow we're just going to be aggressive," Boone said.
Paxton allowed Correa's RBI double in the second, escaped further trouble, then was replaced by Chad Green with one on and one out in the third.
"Thought he was struggling with his command," Boone said.
Green retired six straight batters, and Yankees went ahead 2-1 on Aaron Judge's two-run homer in the fourth off Justin Verlander.
Adam Ottavino came on with one out in the fifth and George Springer homered on his first pitch, a flat slider.
"He didn't miss it when I made the mistake," Ottavino said.
Tommy Kahnle pitched 2 1/3 hitless innings, Zack Britton worked around a one-out walk in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth around a two-out walk, a taxing inning that took 25 pitches.
"I think the sense was that some people were going to get extended, but I think the bullpen has been pretty prepared," Britton said. "We knew we were going to have to cover some innings, but I thought we pitched really well. It came down to making one more mistake than they did."
Sabathia made only the third relief appearance of his career when he entered to start the 10th, falling behind Michael Brantley 3-0 in the count before retiring him on a grounder. The 39-year-old former AL Cy Young Award winner, who plans to retire after this season, caused teammates to laugh when he left the mound after the first one-batter appearance in his big league career.
"That run in almost killed me," burly Sabathia said, repeating what he told Boone about going to the mound from the bullpen in deep left field.
Out of high-leverage relievers, Boone brought in Jonathan Loaisiga, who walked two batters, then was replaced by Happ. The 36-year-old left-hander escaped the jam, striking out rookie Yordan Álvarez and retiring Yuli Gurriel on a flyout.
Happ tried to elevate a fastball to Correa on his first pitch of the 11th.
"He put a good swing on it and got it," Happ said.
Boone said he never really worried about running out of pitchers. Luis Cessa and Tyler Lyons were the only New York relievers not used.
"You're playing it to win the game. You're not playing it to ... what if we go 13?" Boone said. "The bottom line is we end up giving up a third run in the 11th inning. I'd say from a run prevention standpoint it went pretty well."
Houston had five relievers combine for 4 1/3 innings of one-hit shutout ball after starter Justin Verlander left with the score 2-2.
Tampa Bay used at least five pitchers in the Division Series, an ALDS-record 31 stints over five games.
"They're carrying the extra pitcher, so you know they have the opportunity to do just about anything they want," Astros manager A.J Hinch said. "I'm sure they watched closely what Tampa did in the first series, and that was a little bit similar to how they did it. And their guys came in, and there was one guy after another."
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