Ron Gardenhire was right. You can’t give the Yankees extra changes or easy outs or the ALDS would end very quickly.
“They are professionals, and as I said, they are baseball players,” Gardenhire said after the Yankees swept his twins out of the playoffs. “I know a lot of things get said about their payroll and all that stuff, but the bottom line is, they are just great baseball players. And aside from all the other stuff, they are very, very talented, that’s why they make a lot of money, because they deserve it because they have played the game for a long time and they get it done, and they know how to get it done, and they play with class.
“So, like I said, I tip my hat to them. We had our chances. We played on the same field with those guys and had our chances a lot this year, and they got us every time, and it’s just because they got a few more at-bats than we do in big situations, and they know how to finish people off just a little bit better than we did this year.”
And now for the first time on five years the Yankees are beyond the first round of the playoffs and in the ALCS after their 4-1 win in Minneapolis. Bombers did it in style, with comeback homers from Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada and a little bit of luck after Nick Punto was thrown out by Derek Jeter after over-running third base in the eighth inning.
“You know, you talk about — when you put a team together, pitching, defense, hitting, and we got all that,” said Yankee manager Joe Girardi. “Our defense was excellent in this series. And we are going to need that moving forward. You have to play great defense, and I think our defense has improved since last year.”
Actually the team has improved over the last few years. This is not the same Yankee team from the latter half of the decade. This is a looser club, that seems to like each other. Not only do they have all facets of their game going, they seem to be enjoying their time together.
And most of all the are relaxed, especially A-Rod, who is trying to shed his post season choker reputation.
“Well, I think going back to spring training, I knew I couldn’t change all the 0 for 4’s and 0 for 5’s, and all the guys I left on base, I knew I couldn’t change that, so, you know, I am content right now, both on and off the field,” A-Rod said. “And I also knew that I was 34, not 44, and I have an opportunity to do things right both on and off the field.”
Now the Yankees face their nemesis, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and possibly avenge two of their early ousters this decade. The Halos knocked out the Sox in dramatic fashion yesterday after getting to closer Jonathan Papelbon.
“Two very good teams, close game today,” Girardi said. “The Angels got it done late in the game being down 5 to 1, yeah, we watched it, we are baseball fans, and the Angels played extremely well, and see what happens.”
One thing’s for certain though, the Angels need to play mistake free ball to beat this Yankee team.