Yanks ar­rive early, and with a killer ’pen

Tampa Bay Times - - Baseball - Times wires

The Yan­kees of the mid-to-late ’90s have ac­quired their own mythol­ogy. Derek Jeter and Mar­i­ano Rivera and Jorge Posada and the rest of the dy­nas­tic Yan­kees seem, through the lens of the present, to have emerged fully formed as a colos­sus. Brian Cash­man has a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive, be­cause he wit­nessed them come to­gether.

“That team,” New York’s gen­eral man­ager said, “was young, too, at one point.”

The com­mon re­frain has it that the cur­rent Yan­kees have ar­rived ahead of sched­ule. Maybe that’s true in part. For Cash­man and for the rest of the Yan­kees, both the “Baby Bombers” and an­cient pin­stripers such as CC Sa­bathia and Brett Gard­ner, they have ar­rived, pe­riod. They’re here, among the fi­nal four teams stand­ing in a sea­son flush with un­com­monly great teams, with a sole ex­pec­ta­tion: While they have a chance, win the World Se­ries.

“‘Ar­riv­ing early’ im­plies some guar­an­tee of ar­riv­ing in the fu­ture,” Cash­man said. “I’ve been around the block long enough to know, lis­ten, you just seize the mo­ment.”

The Yan­kees will not face the Astros in the AL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries, which starts tonight, as wide-eyed over­achiev­ers. They leave their stun­ning come­back vic­tory in Game 5 of the ALDS over the In­di­ans as a threat to hoist the tro­phy later this month. They have a pow­er­ful lineup, a blend of pow­er­ful youth and gutty ex­pe­ri­ence and, most im­por­tant, a bullpen that will not quit.

The bullpen, in this era of play­off base­ball, makes the Yan­kees per­haps the most dan­ger­ous team re­main­ing. In six post­sea­son games, their bullpen has per­formed mir­a­cles. It recorded 26 outs and al­lowed one run af­ter starter Luis Sev­erino fell be­hind 3-0 be­fore he could record a sec­ond out in the wild-card game against the Twins. It closed out Wed­nes­day’s Game 5 for 4⅔ in­nings.

Yan­kees re­liev­ers have al­lowed 10 earned runs in 29⅓ while strik­ing out 42 this post­sea­son. Re­move the ill-fated per­for­mance of Chad Green in Game 2 of the ALDS, when a phan­tom hit-byp­itch call vic­tim­ized him, and the bullpen has a 2.17 ERA with 13.03 strike­outs per nine in­nings.

“They get a lead, man, they’re ca­pa­ble of go­ing as far as they want,” In­di­ans out­fielder Jay Bruce said. “You kind of feel who­ever gets to the bullpen with a lead first is in pretty good shape.”

“It’s in­cred­i­ble,” Sa­bathia said. “It’s the best I’ve ever seen. We’ve got four or five closers down there.”

As­so­ci­ated Press

A smil­ing Aroldis Chap­man is the cen­ter of at­ten­tion with­his joy­ous Yan­kee team­mates af­ter clos­ing out the In­di­ans in Game5ofthe AL Di­vi­sion Se­ries on Wed­nes­day in Cleve­land.

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