Houston pitcher Lance McCullers reacts to striking out Julio Rodriguez in the Astros' playoff series-clinching victory over the Seattle Mariners
New York (AFP) - Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers’s scheduled start in game three of the American League Championship Series has been pushed back thanks to a celebration gone awry.
McCullers said Friday he suffered a small cut and some swelling in his throwing elbow when he was hit by a champagne bottle last Saturday as the Astros celebrated their Major League Baseball division series triumph over the Seattle Mariners.
“Unfortunately, after the victory in Seattle I caught a spare champagne bottle to the elbow bone,” he said. “It was really on one’s fault. It was just an accident. So it’s not a huge deal.”
McCullers, a 29-year-old American right-hander, started the series-clinching game in Seattle, which evolved into an 18-inning marathon and ended with Houston completing a sweep.
Now the Astros are 2-0 up on the New York Yankees in the best-of-seven ALCS, with games three and four at Yankee Stadium on Saturday and Sunday.
Christian Javier will now start game three, with McCullers to start game four.
Javier, Hector Neris and Ryan Pressly combined for the first no-hitter at Yankee Stadium in 19 years in a June 25 3-0 victory.
McCullers said he threw 35 pitches in a bullpen session on Friday and won’t have any limitations when he takes the mound in what could turn out to be another potential elimination game.
He’s no stranger to the situation. In game seven of the 2017 ALCS, McCullers retired the Yankees’ final five batters as the Astros clinched a World Series berth.
So far in this series, the Astros have been able to quiet the Yankees’ big bats, the Houston hurlers amassing 30 strikeouts over the first two games.
Star slugger Aaron Judge briefly ignited Yankees hopes in the game-two defeat on Thursday with a blast to the warning track at Minute Maid Park, but Kyle Tucker made the catch at the wall and the Astros prevailed 3-2.
Judge, who set an American League record with 62 regular-season home runs, was confident the Yankees hitters can turn things around in the Bronx.
“We’ve got a great offense,” Judge said. “I think we’ve just got to get back to what has gotten us to this position and what helped us win a division.
“If that’s contact, moving guys over, coming up with that big hit – we’ll figure it out and be ready.”