NEW YORK (AP) — Justin Verlander watched and waited, hoping Aaron Hicks’ drive deep down the right field line would hook foul at the last instant.

When it bonked hard off the bright yellow foul pole for a three-run homer, Verlander crouched beside the mound and simply held up his glove, waiting for a new baseball as the Yankee Stadium crowd roared.

Houston’s star pitcher had put his team in an early hole — no doubt about that now. And when the Astros were unable to rally during a 4-1 loss Friday night to New York, their first of three chances to close out this AL Championship Series was gone.

Entered Game 5 of the ALCS with a 4-0 record and 2.38 ERA in seven previous postseason starts against New York. But he was unable to put away these Bronx Bombers for good, struggling through a four-run first that ate up 29 pitches and marked his worst inning in two-plus years with the Astros.

Game-6 Saturday after college football on ESPN 99.1.

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