Remember when the Yankees were waiting around on Friday night, still not sure who they’d play in the division series? Remember when they had to go on the road for Game 1, despite having the best record in the league? Remember when there was a sense that this unusual playoff format was a disadvantage to the higher seed?
Well, now it’s essentially a three-game series, and all three games are at Yankee Stadium.
“Now it’s a great thing, right?” Derek Jeter said. “When we started, everyone was saying how bad it was because you had to open on the road. If you’re going to win, you’re going to have to win at home, and you’re going to have to win on the road. I don’t think it makes a difference. We like playing at home, and I’m sure the fans will be ready.”
Of course, it’s worth noting that the Orioles played a three-game series at Yankee Stadium three times this season. The Orioles won each of those series, 2-1.
“Just because you’ve been there, I don’t think anybody thinks that that’s any preclusion, a given on how you’re going to play,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter siad. ” I think our guys are very realistic and they understand the tough task ahead of them regardless of what’s happened in the past. I think all of that gets thrown out the window when you get to this situation, so I’m just real proud that the guys continue to compete and do it with a lot of let?it?fly mentality. There’s no back?off in them at all.”
The Yankees are in a position to win this thing. They have the home-field advantage. They have far more postseason experience. Their roster is universally believed to be better than Baltimore’s. But the Orioles have defied expectation all season, and now they’re going to try to pull the upset in the Bronx.
These teams have played one another 20 times this year. They’ve each won 10 games.
“I think they’re a talented group, number one,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s a pitching staff that knows how to pitch behind in the count, pitch ahead in the count. They’ve had a very good bullpen throughout the course of the year. They’re a team that hits the ball out of the ballpark; it’s how their score a lot of their runs. They’ve been very good in tight ballgames, so they’re used to playing them. But it’s a talented group, and to me the biggest difference is the improvement in their pitching staff from last year to this year, where they’ve always had some talented position players, but they’ve lost some games late at times and some tough games, and those games they’re winning this year.”
Associated Press photo