I’m not so sure the Houston Astros are glad the Yankees won.
Now that the New York Yankees have come back to win the thrilling American League Division series, they move on to face the Astros for the league championship with the first two games in Houston. Had Cleveland beaten the Yankees, the Indians would have had the home-field advantage from owning the best record in baseball. Now the Astros do.
Advantage, Houston? Not so fast, as Lee Corso likes to say on football game day Saturdays. The Yankees not only possess championship DNA from having won 27 World Series, they have a helluva lineup and the best pitching staff in baseball. The Astros may get to play a deciding seventh game in Houston, but only if the series goes that far.
Unlike most contending teams that make a trade or two to increase their chances in the playoffs, the Yankees went on a trading binge and got position players like Todd Frazier, two more starting pitchers and two relievers to create a shut-down bull pen. They are now healthy and playing their best ball.
That slugging outfielder Aaron Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez, who hit almost 80 home runs during the regular season, haven’t done much in the playoffs so far means the rest of their lineup is doing a lot. Shortstop Didi Gregorius, who’s already made some New Yorkers forget Derek Jeter, has become the Yankees’ best player. He hit two homers in the fifth game at Cleveland that turned out to decide that series.
The Astros are the nation’s sentimental favorites after what Hurricane Harvey did to Houston, and they have never won a World Series. They also have a lineup of big bats and a great pitching staff. They have the American League MVP in second baseman Jose Altuve and get to play the first two games, and if there is a seventh game, in Houston.
But there is something about the Yankees, a wild-card team that has shown tremendous resilience. They blew a five-run lead in the second game of the division series at Cleveland, but came back to win the next two in Yankee Stadium and then stunned the Indians, the best team in baseball all season, in game five.
Houston, you may have a problem.