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New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) delivers against the Cleveland Indians during the first inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Division Series, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

After a thrilling five-game series against the Cleveland Indians, the New York Yankees will begin the American League Championship Series with Masahiro Tanaka starting Game 1 against the Houston Astros on Friday.

The Yankees announced Tanaka as their Game 1 starter:

The obvious choices for Yankees manager Joe Girardi in Game 1 were Tanaka and Sonny Gray, who started the first game against the Indians on Oct. 5. 

Gray had the stronger overall season with a 3.55 ERA, 153 strikeouts and 139 hits allowed in 162.1 innings with the Yankees and Oakland Athletics

However, Gray had his struggles down the stretch with a 4.58 ERA and 14 walks in six September starts. He also struggled with his command against Cleveland last week with four walks and three earned runs in 3.1 innings. 

Tanaka has made everyone forget his 4.74 ERA in 2017 with back-to-back dominant outings. He struck out 15 Toronto Blue Jays in seven shutout innings on Sept. 29 and allowed three hits with seven strikeouts in seven shutout innings in Game 3 against Cleveland to keep New York’s season alive.

The Yankees and Astros will open the ALCS at Minute Maid Park on Friday with first pitch scheduled for 8:08 p.m. ET.

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