Home field advantage in this ALCS? After Wednesday night in the Bronx it belongs to the Yankees with a three-game sweep following the Astros winning the first two by identical 2-1 scores at Minute Maid Park. But these Yankees with momentum may not need home field advantage come Friday night when the series shifts to Houston for Game 6.
That has been the theme of this ACLS, winning at home, though the Yankees in this postseason are a perfect 6-0. There was that elimination wild card win over the Twins. They took two straight from the Indians when facing elimination two times, and did it again this week in the Bronx against the Astros with the three-game sweep.
So a return trip to Minute Maid Park, and the script going to plan, is supposed to go to the Astros. But logic says the way this series has transpired, and because the Yankees are playing perfect baseball, home field advantage may not matter.
In October, winning at home is what the Yankees have done and one more win earns a trip to their first World Series since they won it all in 2009. Chances are the Yankees could return to the Bronx next week and host three more games as the AL wild card team in the World Series.
Chances are the Yankees could return from Los Angeles or Chicago down two games again if they finish off the Astros this weekend and win their 41st AL championship. Then again with this momentum the Yankees have, they could lose two more games in Houston and home field advantage definitely played a role in this series.
But this was Yankee Stadium the past three nights and the home team knows something about that advantage. The Yankees won the most home games in the American league and that success has carried into the postseason.
What matters now, which is more important, the Yankees need one more win and do it Friday night in Houston. They do that and it’s a trip to the World Series, though realizing the Astros are also a very good home team at Minute Maid Park and will have their fans rocking at their ballpark.
“A day off slows things down,” said Astros’ outfielder George Springer. “Any day off will help anybody. We just have to capitalize on some mistakes. Home in front of our fans will be huge for us. We understand what has to happen. Go out there and compete.”
The Yankees in the Bronx outscored Houston 19-5. The last three games, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa were a combined 2-for-22 and production like that from the three hole and cleanup spot in the lineup will not win ballgames. Those two had a major impact in leading the Astros to the AL Central title and helped put runs on the board for the best run producing team in the league.
“We have to find a way to score runs,” Correa said. “We have to show it next time.” But what made matters worse for the Astros, they didn’t get the pitching in the Bronx. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are two key components of the Yankees lineup that were a catalyst of their success of scoring runs that were second in the league.
And they had a role in their home field win with run scoring hits.
The Yankees went with the home field advantage at this billion dollar version of the old one. Crowds the past three nights in the Bronx may have been louder than what was heard in the old ballpark in what is now a park across the street.
So now the Houston Astros face elimination and on the other side of what the Yankees faced six times this postseason. And they will have home field advantage.
“It will be great,” their manager A.J. Hinch said about heading home. “There weren’t a lot rooting for us here. I think getting home will be good for us. We’ll have an off day tomorrow, and get to play in front of our home crowd. Every home team has won this series. If that trend continues, we’ll be in pretty good shape.”
If that trend is going to continue the Astros have to pitch and hit to be in good shape, because the Yankees have capitalized to where everything has gone to perfection as it did the past three nights on their field in the Bronx.
But these Yankees only know one thing, home field or not, they have the one game advantage and plan to close it out Friday night.