Yankees playoffs: Judgment day arrives in the ALCS
Halloween Should be Fun for You, and Scary for Them
It would be hard to find a playoff team that has faced as many elimination games as this one has that stays, and plays, this loose.
Nothing seems to bother them. They don’t just come back in tight games and series, seemingly able to effortlessly master the moment; they do it with a smile and sanguine belief that everything is going to work out.
For evidence, look at Gardy’s ninth inning at-bat in game five. Judge was on deck. The Yankees were clinging to a one-run lead against a heavily favored, and far more experienced, team. From my couch, it seemed like a pressure packed moment.
But it sure didn’t seem that way to Gardner. After every swing, he stepped out to share a smile and conversation with Aaron. He was so relaxed I wondered if he had recently moved to a legal weed state.
Yankees Just Carry the Fear Gene
And it’s not just Gardy and not just that moment. The whole team seems thrilled, but far from surprised. Whatever emotions they are feeling, it does not include seemingly an iota of panic or anxiety.
Emotions, however, have their own indispensable energy; it has to go somewhere. The more the Yankees play like this, the more they will transfer all their unused fear to their opponents, in this case the Astros. I think we saw the beginning of that last night.
And maybe we saw the beginning of the end of the Astros; maybe. Houston is still in control of this series and still has the best two starting pitchers. Smart money is still heavily on Houston’s side.
A Candy Fueled Vision
But let’s take this moment, before the last few games play out, to appreciate where this team is, and at least conjure up a dream scenario.
A rested Sonny Gray could easily outduel McCullers, and Tanaka could do the same to Peacock. By that time, against sub-par pitching, the Yankees offense should be plenty awake.
It’s still too much to think the Yankees can beat both Keuchel and Verlander. Best case scenario is that Keuchel carries the Astros in game six, but Verlander feels both his age and high pitch count in game seven. And as John Sterling will shout on that day, “The Yankees win, theeeeeee Yankees win!”
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But to force the Astros to face their Dia de Los Muertes, new Yankees heroes will have to arise, and new legends will have to be forged. High, hard, home runs will still need to materialize to frighten the ’Stros.
And pitchers will still need to focus on every pitch, or risk seeing Altuve score from second on a single. Do that, and the Yankees might meet their ancient foe, The Dodgers, for another Fall Classic.
That would be quite an improbable October treat for Yankees, and Yankees fans. And a great big rock in the Astros postseason Charlie Brown candy bag.