Oct 19, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) reacts during an at bat against the Houston Astros during the fifth inning in game one of the ALCS for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The intense Yankees-Astros rivalry picked up right where it left off in Game 1 of the ALCS on Wednesday with a familiar result: Houston dominating while New York was mostly dormant.

Game 1 was no different as the Astros won 4-2. They hit the timely home runs and rode Justin Verlander’s arm the rest of the way. The Yankees failed to capitalize on early opportunities and never really had a shot once Clarke Schmidt took over.

Game 2 is now a must-win with Luis Severino set to pitch. Here are some lessons the Yankees can hopefully take into tomorrow night:

Home runs will win the series. Let’s not get blinded by the Yankees beating the Guardians in the ALDS. They hit .185 as a team and only advanced because they hit nine home runs to Cleveland’s three. Harrison Bader’s solo home run set an early tone in Game 1 and Anthony Rizzo added one later, but New York couldn’t maintain a lead.

Rested Houston, on the other hand, stayed focused and waited for the tired Yankees to make their mistakes. Three solo home runs later, the Astros led 1-0 in the best-of-seven series.

Justin Verlander is still that guy. The Yankees took advantage of Justin Verlander struggling early and had the future Hall-of-Famer at 66 pitches through three innings. Unfortunately, nobody accounted for him finding control of his curveball and striking out eight of nine through three more innings.

Let this be a gentle reminder that Justin Verlander is 39 years old, missed last season with Tommy John surgery, and went 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA this season. The Yankees are lucky he didn’t throw a complete game.

Ask questions about Clarke Schmidt. Clarke Schmidt was once a top Yankees prospect. Before the pandemic shut things down in 2020, I even suggested he get a chance in the starting rotation. Now, his future in New York looks cloudy.

Schmidt surrendered back-to-back home runs to Yuli Gurriel and Chas McCormick in the sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie. This is after blowing the save in Game 3 of the ALDS too. His 3.12 ERA in the regular season is a non-factor. The October pressure is eating him alive.

Clarke Schmidt will still be a Yankee next season and should compete for the No. 5 slot in the rotation. Even so, if a team wants to trade for him, New York should absolutely listen to any and all offers.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.