Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
So the Yankees didn't take advantage of their first chance to finish off the Astros and now it seems like Houston is the club swimming in momentum for Game 7 of the AL Championship Series, right?
Maybe it's true. And with their bats finally awake, the Astros will be a tough out in the decisive game Saturday night at Minute Maid Park. But perhaps the Yankees can put themselves in a strong position to advance to the World Series if they mull over a few things before the epic clash with Houston.
Like this: Remember what it was like when no one thought this season was going anywhere. That's when the Yanks started to thrive, back when they were the interesting, rebuilding Bronx Bombers, hopeful about the future.
You might say it helped them become the terrific team that they are. Loose, unflappable, wildly talented.
Also, this: They've already won all four of the elimination games they've played this October, starting with the AL Wild Card Game against the Twins. Then they won three straight against the Indians, the team with the AL's best record, after falling behind, 0-2, in the AL Division Series.
You want to call Game 3 of the ALCS a must-win, too? We won't quibble, since going down, 0-3, has been a team's death sentence every time, except, well, you remember 2004. Enough said.
This year, the Yanks beat Houston in Game 3 and even won the next two games to go ahead, 3-2. Of course, that lead is gone now after Houston steamrolled the Yankees, 7-1, in Game 6.
Finally, this: The Yankees still got the one win they needed out of the four games that Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander started in the series, no matter if Verlander dominated them twice and Keuchel did it once. The Yanks should cling to the psychic boost they got from conquering Keuchel even once.
Besides, who doesn't like their pitching advantage in Game 7? CC Sabathia starts for the Yankees and he's saved this season before, giving them a gritty 4 1/3 innings in Game 5 of the ALDS and six shutout frames in Game 3 of the ALCS. The Yanks scored seven runs off Houston's choice, Charlie Morton, in just 3.2 innings in Game 3.
Of course, most everyone on both teams likely will be available to pitch, except probably Luis Severino and Chad Green for the Yankees. Verlander wouldn't rule himself out, either, though he threw 99 pitches over seven shutout innings Friday night.
Why not? It's Game 7, after all.
The Yankees would have preferred to end it Friday night, but they could not. Still, they say they feel good about their situation and it's hard to blame them. If they had been told they'd be here back when they were figuring this was just a year where they'd see how good the kids were and maybe linger on contention's fringes, they'd take it.
And this team has grown by leaps and bounds - and trade-deadline additions - since then. The experience in October pressure has to help.
"The way we've come out and the way we bounced back in certain games," Joe Girardi said in his press conference after Game 6. "We've won all kind of different games; we've won some high-scoring games, we've won I think a 1-0. It's a situation our guys have been in a lot.
"I think you have to keep [Game 6] in perspective. We still have a shot to do what we want to try to do."
The Yanks must forget what it was like to play out in front, when they took their series lead into Game 6 and everyone was booking them for the World Series and Dodger Stadium already. Maybe the new pressure of Fall Classic expectations got in the way Friday night.
Shouldn't be hard to move on, though. Their young players haven't been worrywarts all year. Look at Aaron Judge, who has come up from the depths of terrible slumps during the regular season and the postseason to be a fearsome lineup presence again and again.
They haven't flopped in an elimination game yet. Sabathia likes their chances.
"Just the way we can turn the page," he said in a press conference after Game 6. "It's something that these guys have a gift to do. It's hard to do, especially for a young team. And they seem to do that every day.
"We'll come out [in Game 7] and play a great game and win."