Carlos Correa hits walk-off home run in 11th inning, Astros even ALCS with Yankees

HOUSTON — The New York Yankees had the Houston Astros on the ropes.

They just needed their vaunted bullpen to close it out, and they were home free, with a commanding lead in this American League Championship Series.

But it was Carlos Correa’s leadoff homer in the 11th that that gave the Astros a 3-2 victory in front of 43,359 frenzied fans at Minute Maid Park, evening this best-of-seven series at 1-apiece.

Just like that, the Astros are back in the driver’s seat.

The Astros will have Gerrit Cole, the hottest pitcher on the planet on the mound in Game 3 on Tuesday.

This was a game that will be discussed all winter long.

Certainly, it was a game the Astros couldn’t afford to lose.

Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is mobbed by his teammates after his walk-off homer. (Photo: Troy Taormina, \USA TODAY Sports)

The Yankees were confident they had the game in hand when it became a battle of the bullpens. Why, after starter James Paxton departed after just 2 ⅓ innings, they used eight different relievers, who gave up just two hits until the 11th inning.

The Astros tied the game 2-2 on George Springer’s homer in the fifth inning, his 12th postseason homer overall, the most in Astros’ history.

Aaron Judge gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning with a two-run homer, which was Verlander’s only major mistake in his 6 ⅔ inning brilliant performance.

It was Judge’s eighth postseason homer in 23 games, with only Lou Gehrig hitting more (9) in his first 25 postseason games in Yankee history.

He has been a one-man power show, particularly with Giancarlo Stanton hurt again, out of the Yankees’ starting lineup with a strained quadriceps.

Still, it was not enough to stop the Astros, who will spend all winter talking about shortstop Correa’s game-saving play in the sixth inning.

The Yankees, with runners on first and second, hit their first groundball of the game with Brett Gardner’s hard shot to second baseman Jose Altuve. The ball caromed off Altuve’s glove and bounced to his right.

Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin, wanting to take advantage of the blunder, waved D.J. LeMahieu home.

Never did he realize that Correa would alertly pick up the ball, fire home, and nail LeMahieu by 10 feet.

The crowd roared, and Verlander pumped his fist dancing off the mound, keeping the game tied at 2-apiece.

Verlander, the likely Cy Young winner, once again was superb, with his only real mistake that fat slider over the middle of the plate Judge sent 423 feet over the center-field wall.

Otherwise, Verlander tormented the Yankees.

Once again.

Verlander remains undefeated, 4-0, in seven career starts against the Yankees. In his 12 postseason appearances with the Astros since 2017, he 7-3 with a 2.90 ERA, striking out 75 in 71 ⅓innings.

Thanks to Alvarez’s heroics, he likely will pitch again in Game 6.

Perhaps, to close out the series.

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#AllRise!

The @Yankees take the lead. #ALCSpic.twitter.com/CTFo6ExoXN

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