Yankees designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton (27) celebrates with Aaron Judge during...

Yankees designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton (27) celebrates with Aaron Judge during Game 5 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 18, 2022. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

The “Who’s your Daddy!” chants echoed throughout Yankee Stadium Tuesday afternoon, a mocking reference to Josh Naylor’s rock-a-bye-baby gesture, something he never got to use in the decisive Game 5 of the Division Series.

Maybe the rowdy Bronx crowd initially directed the taunts at Naylor, but they lingered beyond his trips to the plate, grew louder through a festive ninth inning and spilled over to a broader indictment of the Cleveland baseball club as a whole.

By nearly every measure, from the opening pitch of this series, the Yankees represented the daddy figure in this playoff clash. It just took them the full five games to re-assert the rightful order of things, concluding with Tuesday’s 5-1 victory over the Guardians (this should have been over in four, if not for Saturday’s criminal bullpen mismanagement by Aaron Boone).

And now it’s time to get those “[Bleep] Altuve! chants ready for next week, when the Astros will be arriving in the Bronx for the middle games of the ALCS, which kicks off with Wednesday night’s Game 1 at Minute Maid Park. A short-lived “We Want Houston!” chorus surfaced in the ninth as Everyday Wandy Peralta worked on finishing off the Guardians, but the sellout crowd of 48,178 seemed a bit more cautious with that refrain.

The Astros, to put it bluntly, are the Yankees’ daddy, having knocked them out of the playoffs three times since 2015, including twice in the ALCS. Houston isn’t some JV club from the AL Central. And the mental baggage for the Yankees is real, along with the bitter feelings left over the Astros cheating their way to the World Series title in 2017.

“If you’re stuck in the past, you’re not going to go anywhere,” said Aaron Judge, who teamed up with Giancarlo Stanton for a pair of homers Tuesday that gave the Yankees an early 4-0 lead. “I’m going to treat it like any other series. We’ll go there with our A game and take care of business.”

The Yankees celebrated afterward in the usual champagne-spraying fashion, donning ski goggles amid a plastic-wrapped clubhouse. But relative to years past, and even the East-clincher last month at Rogers Centre, this was a more reserved party as the Yankees would be facing the Astros’ Justin Verlander (on a week’s rest) roughly 24 hours later in Game 1.

Newsday's Yankees reporter Erik Boland breaks down the Game 5 win against the Guardians to finish the ALDS on Tuesday, setting up a matchup with the Houston Astros in the ALCS beginning Wednesday.  Credit: Newsday/William Perlman

The Yankees did make a point, however, of heading back onto the field -- with thousands of fans still cheering from their seats -- to take a team photo behind the pitcher’s mound. Not long after, the plastic already was being rolled up, the clubhouse music was off and the players seemed intent on cleaning up for the flight to Houston - and their fifth playoff game in five days.

“We’ve got momentum,” said Anthony Rizzo, whose RBI-single in the fifth inning made it 5-1. “I feel like it’s almost better for us to roll right in there and keep this going. We’ll be ready.”      

As for Monday’s loser-goes-home contest, the previous night’s excruciating rainout theater featured more suspense than Game 5, when the outcome felt decided as soon as Boone switched to All-Star Nestor Cortes for the do-or-die start and two-time World Series winner Terry Francona stuck with .... Aaron Civale.

The Yankees’ biggest advantage entering this series was their raw power, but of their seven homers through the first four games, Harrison Bader was responsible for three of them. On Tuesday, however, the loud noises sounded awfully familiar. Stanton instantly made Francona regret his Civale choice by launching a three-run homer in the first inning, feasting on a personal favorite: the belt-high 87-mph cutter on the outside edge of the strike zone.

With Stanton’s strength, just sticking the barrel out there was enough to shoot a 108-mph laser into the rightfield seats. And if a 3-0 lead already didn’t feel like enough with Cortes at the wheel, Judge smacked away some of the lingering jitters the very next inning with a 394-foot blast into the neighboring zip code of Stanton’s homer.

This marked the fourth time that both sluggers went deep in the same playoff game, the most of any Yankees’ duo in franchise history. Stanton’s 11th home run in 23 postseason games tied Carlos Beltran for the most in that span. Judge’s homer was his fourth in a winner-take-all game, tops in major-league history.

“We just feed off each other,” Judge said. “And it’s fun playing next to Big G.”

Why the baseball gods chose to give the $260-million franchise the benefit of Monday’s stubborn rain showers, a bump that freed up Cortes to go on three day’s rest over Jameson Taillon, we’ll never know (what's a little bad PR compared to a major rotation upgrade?). Boone insisted before Game 5 that the Yankees were more than ready to play once the storm clouds cleared that night -- “eye black on, at my door,” he said. Truth be told, the Yankees couldn’t have scripted the delay any better, especially when Civale showed up to throw batting practice for Tuesday’s matinee.

As for Cortes, he needed just 61 pitches to motor through five innings -- the Guardians only nicked him for Jose Ramirez’ sacrifice fly after loading the bases in the third -- and that gave the Yankees’ suspect, non-Wandy portion of the bullpen less opportunity to screw things up. Of course, Peralta was called on for the fifth time in this five-game series, and when Gleyber Torres stepped on second for the final out, he cradled his arms to mimic Naylor’s baby-rocking gesture.

“One step at a time right now,” Stanton said. “We’ve had an interesting couple of days, but no excuses.”

Starting Wednesday, it’s back to business. The Astros won’t be child’s play.

Most home runs in deciding postseason series games:

4   Aaron Judge, Yankees

3  Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees

    Yogi Berra, Yankees

     Didi Gregorius, Yankees

     Moose Skowron, Yankees

     Troy O'Leary, Red Sox