Ahead of schedule, Yankees push toward World Series
CLEVELAND — You get one chance, just one, for a season like this in New York. Once a group wins, that becomes the expectation. It is like a first kiss: Everything changes, and there is no going back.
This was the Yankees’ bonus year, when nobody thought they would win very much — maybe not even the players. How could we all see this coming? Their best starting pitcher was awful last season. Their leading slugger hit .179. Their rivals looked stronger. This would be another season to wait for faraway free agents and groom the kids.
“I thought we were going to be better than people thought we were going to be,” said outfielder Brett Gardner, who also acknowledged his uncertainty. “You don’t know what to expect when a young guy comes up to the big leagues — if they’re ready or not, or how long it’s going to take them to adjust.”
The Yankees would be patient, for a change, after a winter of relative discipline. If one New York team would play for a berth in the World Series, it would surely be the Mets. They had been there more recently, and they had so much pitching.
Yet here are the Yankees, ready to face the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series after storming back to upset the Cleveland Indians, three games to two, in a riveting division series. The Mets have fallen apart. The Yankees have underpromised and overdelivered. They are a pinstriped underdog in the year of the solar eclipse.
With four more victories, the Yankees will advance to the World Series for the
Yankees’ Didi Gregorius runs the bases after hitting a solo home run in Game 5 of the ALDS on Wednesday.