Though behind the scenes the Yankees’ organization is more than happy to see the Astros/Rays series turn into a grueling bloodbath that potentially provides them some kind of benefit in the upcoming American League Championships Series, no one publicly will say so.
Including the manager.
“I mean, in theory, I guess that's true,” Aaron Boone said Wednesday afternoon on a conference call. “I've gotten that question a lot lately, even from some friends and even other coaches and, honestly, I kind of abide by ‘careful what you wish for.’ Sometimes you don't know what you're pulling for. And as much as you want a Game 5, maybe that ends up not working in your favor, who knows?”
The Yankees, who completed a three-game ALDS sweep of the Twins Monday night in Minneapolis, are in wait-and-see mode for the ALCS that starts Saturday night in a location to be determined — either Houston or the Bronx.
The top-seeded Astros, after cruising to a two-games-to-none series lead, dropped back-to-back games in St. Petersburg, Florida, with Game 5 Thursday night in Houston. An Astros victory means they would host Games 1 and 2; a Rays upset means homefield advantage for the Yankees.
If the Astros win, and they are still considered the favorite, they will not have their rotation lined up as desired for the ALCS. That’s because Houston manager A.J. Hinch brought back Justin Verlander on short rest in Game 4 and is throwing co-ace Gerrit Cole in Game 5.
If the Rays win, of course, it’s homefield advantage few thought the Yankees would have in the ALCS because of the Astros’ season-long dominance that allowed them to win 107 games.
“I mean, the biggest thing is we're trying to take care of our house, make sure our players are in a good position,” Boone said, gently rejecting the notion of his team deriving some kind of benefit one way or the other. “Depending who our opponent is, you know, we feel like we'll be very buttoned up on having a game plan of attacking them. I'm certainly enjoying watching it unfold. But I don't really draw an advantage/disadvantage type thing from it. I don't worry about that or consume myself with that at all.”
Boone’s “house” looked just fine in the ALDS, completely eviscerating the 101-win Twins, who set the single-season record in homers with 307. There had been some speculation the Yankees might come out a bit rusty after a nearly five-day layoff before the start of the series (the Twins had the same time off), but that was far from the case. The Yankees outhit the Twins, outpitched them and out-defensed them in a series that was never competitive. The Yankees will have a similar layoff before the ALCS and Boone said he’s not concerned, though he said in the past that kind of hiatus might have caused him some “trepidation.”
“It's something that I totally embrace and I think benefits us,” Boone said. “I know our guys will be ready. I know they prepare really hard behind the scenes to allow themselves to stay sharp. So I look at this time of year, anytime we get a couple extra days . . . I look at it as pretty much entirely a positive. I think our guys really benefit from it and I know, come Saturday, will be ready to roll.”
All good with Britton and Chapman
Zack Britton, who dinged up his right ankle Monday night, and Aroldis Chapman, who wore a wrap with ice on his pitching (left) hand late Monday night after getting hit with a Champagne bottle during the clubhouse celebration, are both OK, Boone said.
“Chapman’s fine and Britton . . . Britt came in today to get some work done and he said he's good to go . . . if he had to pitch today he would be good to go,” Boone said.