After the Yankees dropped the weak ALDS Twins on Monday night in Minneapolis, Hal Steinbrenner said he and his family are very proud of their club.
"But we're not there yet," Steinbrenner said. "This is Step 1."
Step 2 will be much more difficult to negotiate as it will be taken against the Astros, considered by many to be the best baseball team, or annoying rays. Their best of five ALDS is set for Game 5 of the winners and pick up everyone in Houston on Thursday night after Reis defeated the Astros, 4-1, on Tuesday night in St. Petersburg, Florida.
A popular theory is the Yankees win even if the Astros advance because Cy Young contender Gerrit Cole cannot start any of his first two games after his start on Thursday. Still, the Astros can still go for Zack Greinke, Verlander and Cole in the first three ALCS games, and it's no easy task.
Winning the Astros would create the Astros-Yankees ALCS, which will start Saturday in Houston and be a repeat of 201
Regardless of the opponent, the Yankees will be activated in class.
No more facing startup staff that includes an Uber driver. Forget about throwing a lineup that hits .218 overall in three games and hits a decent .107 (3-for-28) with runners in scoring position.
The Rays can't match the Big Three of the Astros, Cole and Greenke's Verlander, but they have Charlie Morton and have been very creative with others as discoverers.
And in a very large department the Astros are run by A.J. Hinch and Kevin Cash control the rays. If they're not the top two in the American League, they're close, right there with Aaron Boone and Bob Melvin.
Hinch and Cash won't be around their best boss in Game 2 after losing Game 1 as the Twins Rocco Baldelli did in Game 2 of ALDS. Baldelli has ace staff Jake Odorizzi available for Game 2 and passes the ball to rookie Randy Dobnak, who marks the Twins' game as an active Uber leader and starts the season in Single-A.
The Rays (3.65) and Astros (3.66) are ranked first and second in the ERA during the regular season, respectively, among AL teams. The Astros (.221) and Rays (.230) were first and second in average against. The Astros (1,671) were the tops in the penalty shootout, and the Rays (1,621) were third. The Astros (1.13) were first in WHIP and the Rays (1.17) were third. The Yankees finished ahead of the Astros and Rays in saves with 50 that tied the Twins to the AL lead.
Clearly, no matter who faces the Yankees with a ticket to the World Series on the line will have much greater resistance than the Twins, who lost 13 straight October games to the Yankees.
The Yankees went 3-4 against the Asters in the regular season when they were swept up in a three-game series at Minute Maid Park in April and took three of four in June at the Yankees Stadium.
The Yankees are 12-7 against the Rays; 8-2 at home.
While the Yankees bring back Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez from the injury list at the end of the regular season and Edwin Encranion when ALDS starts and are as healthy as they are all year, they are still without central footballer Aaron Hicks and reliever Delin Bevids . CC Sabathia is confident it can contribute to the scourge of the ALCS after not being listed on the ALDS due to a curving left shoulder that did not bounce after a single relief trip on September 24 at St. John's. Petersburg.
As they will face better picking, the Yankees are unlikely to post the numbers they did against the Twins, who scored 23 runs, hit .293 and were .324 (11-for-34). with a homer and 16 RBI with runners in scoring position.
If the MVP Award for ALDS was awarded, it would go to Gleyber Torres, who went 5-for-12 (.417) with a homer and four RBI.
A positive sign is that Didy Gregorius, who finished the regular season in a fall of 15-79 (.190), hit a grand slam that opened Game 2 and hit .400 (4-for-10) with a homer and six RBI in the series.