New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi paid respect to the Houston Astros, particularly second baseman Jose Altuve.
Girardi led the Yankees back from a two-game American League Division Series hole against the Cleveland Indians, and he is now ready to pull off another upset against the Astros.
He praised Houston's vaunted lineup Thursday, pointing out how deep and versatile it is.
"Extremely talented offensively," Girardi said of the Astros.
"It's a club that scores a lot of runs but doesn't swing and miss very much. I think when you look at them it's a complete lineup throughout. They're aggressive on the base paths so you have to control that. They're going to hit their home runs, but they're going to do a lot of other things offensively. So you need to make pitches."
Second baseman Altuve was singled out, and Girardi recognised him as a force.
"Oh, he's a great player, and he's been for a number of years here," Girardi said.
"Obviously he plays the game the right way, he plays extremely hard. And it's a guy that not only gets 200 hits a year but is extremely productive with the home runs, the doubles, and all the things, driving in the runs that he does."
Masahiro Tanaka will start game one for the Yankees on Friday. He tossed seven shut-out innings with seven strikeouts in a game three win over the Indians.
"I have a ton of confidence in him," Girardi said of Tanaka.
"When you think about the way he's been pitching lately, you think about him having the possibility of making two starts in a series. So if I wait until game three, you don't know if you're going to get there. Then his next start would be game seven. So one way of guaranteeing him one start at home is one and five. So that's why we chose to do it, and we loved what he did his last start and give us whatever you got."
|Cubs stay alive, Yankees poised to reach World Series|
|Girardi calls Tanaka ´special´ after game five masterpiece|
|Cubs´ Maddon ejected after umpires reverse controversial call|
|Dodgers´ Roberts all too familiar with historic 3-0 comebacks|
|Maddon on staving off elimination: Cubs have to start hitting ball|
|Yankees level Astros series, Dodgers take 3-0 lead|
|Yankees rout Astros to reduce ALCS deficit|
|Girardi says Yankees star Judge isn´t getting calls ´because he´s so tall´|
|Dodgers take 2-0 NLCS lead over Cubs after walk-off win|
|Maddon ejected after overturned call, saw ´a great baseball play´|
|Verlander leads Astros into 2-0 lead, Dodgers win|
|Verlander labels game two win one of his best|
|Girardi says ´good pitching´ cause for Yankees´ offensive struggles|
|Kershaw: Dodgers don´t have advantage against Cubs|
|Astros trump Yankees in ALCS opener|
|Altuve ´couldn´t believe it´ when Astros acquired Verlander|
|Cubs edge Nationals to clinch series|
|Girardi says Altuve ´plays the game the right way´|
|Yankees upstage Indians to reach ALCS, Nats force game five|
|Baker not surprised by Strasburg´s dominance for Nats|
|Encarnacion back in Indians line-up after ankle injury|
|Boston Red Sox fire John Farrell after latest playoff failure|
|Indians optimistic Encarnacion returns for game five|
|Nationals-Cubs game four postponed to Wednesday|
|Dodgers sweep Diamondbacks, Astros advance|
|Minnesota Twins hand manager Molitor three-year extension|
|Yankees, Red Sox in series-saving wins over Indians and Astros|
|Girardi uncertain about Yankees future|
|Maddon says Wrigley Field is ´best place in the world to play baseball´|
|Nats´ Scherzer healthy, ready to make mark on postseason|
|Dodgers take control, Nationals level series|
|Indians´ Encarnacion feeling ´much better´|
|Indians win thriller, Astros also take 2-0 lead|
|MLB: No evidence Diamondbacks coach used Apple Watch to cheat|
|Indians, Astros win ALDS openers|
|Yankees use LeBron James to troll Indians on Twitter|
|Diamondbacks earn meeting with Dodgers after outlasting Rockies|
|Yankees will start Gray in game one of ALDS|
|Rangers release injury-plagued Fielder|
|Cubs choose Hendricks to start against Nats in game one|
|Court still in session as Judge and Yankees top Twins in wildcard game|
|Sano left off Twins´ roster for MLB wildcard game|
|Collins resigns as Mets manager|
|Altuve, Blackmon win MLB batting titles|
|Stanton receives standing ovation after historic season|
|Rockies join postseason party, clinch final NL wildcard spot|
|Tigers´ Romine plays all nine positions against Twins|
|Suzuki wants to play MLB until at least 50|
|Red Sox beat Astros to clinch AL East, Indians seal AL top seed|
|Astros give MLB three 100-win teams for first time since 2003|
|Blackmon sets MLB record for RBIs by leadoff hitter|
|Astros star Correa makes Red Sox his latest victim|
|Marlins slugger Stanton hits 58th home run|
|Cubs clinch division, heating up at right time|
|White Sox help Twins clinch AL wildcard spot|
|Cubs clinch second straight NL Central title|
|Astros rout Rangers, secure home-field advantage in ALDS as Red Sox fall|
|Cubs clinch tie for NL Central title, deal blow to Cardinals´ play-off hopes|
|WATCH: Cubs´ Russell brings Cardinals fan fresh nachos after spilling into stands|
|Yankees´ Aaron Judge breaks Mark McGwire’s rookie HR record|
|Athletics´ Maxwell will continue kneeling despite threats & racial slurs|
|Diamondbacks clinch home-field advantage in wildcard game with walk-off win|
|Bautista receives emotional farewell from Blue Jays fans|
|Kershaw breaks Dodgers record for most seasons with 200 strikeouts|
|Maddon all for self-expression as Cubs manager clarifies Trump comments|
|Brewers claim walk-off win over Cubs|
|Stanton closes in on Maris record with 57th homer|
|Yankees back in postseason after clinching playoff spot|
|Astros continue surge as Verlander shuts out Angels|
|Dodgers slugger Bellinger breaks NL rookie HR record|