The Yankees celebrated their 5-1 ALDS win over the Cleveland Guardians for about 20 minutes Tuesday night. Maybe even 30. They popped the champagne in the clubhouse, they went out to the field to take a photo and salute the fans, and by the time they headed back inside, they were ready to face the Houston Astros.
Even coming through the tunnel to return to the clubhouse, several players were yelling to the group, “We have a game to play to play tomorrow!” It was more of an excited reminder than a warning, but it showed that the club is eager to move forward into the next round.
It’s a quick turnaround with the ALCS beginning Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park. The Yankees have less than 24 hours before they face the team that eliminated them in the ALCS in 2017 and 2019, which is why their postgame celebration was somewhat subdued.
“That’s what we needed to do,” Giancarlo Stanton said. “It was only a couple minutes and we understand what we just did, we acknowledge it, and then know we’ve got work to do tomorrow — quick.”
This was a huge win for a team that was on the brink of elimination over the weekend. The Guardians had a chance to eliminate them in Game 4 but a gutsy performance by Gerrit Cole sent it back to New York. Game 5 was originally scheduled for Monday, but a storm eliminated that possibility and forced the teams to play the day before the start of the next round.
The Yankees are hoping to preserve the adrenaline from the Game 5 win and take it into Game 1 in Houston. If there is a chance to build some momentum, they’ll take it.
“It’s been an interesting few days, but we’ve got to use it to our advantage any way we can,” Stanton said. “Just roll it on because we’ve go to keep it going.”
Coming into the day, the team was hyper-focused. They’d like to stay that way for Game 1 against the heavy World Series favorite. The Astros have owned the Yankees in the ALCS recently, heightening the pressure around this particular matchup.
“We were locked in today,” outfielder and AL MVP frontrunner Aaron Judge said. “From the very first pitch that Nestor threw, this team was locked in. We were on a mission and we went out there and completed it. Now it’s time to celebrate for a second and lock it back in for this next journey we’re about to go on.”
There was nothing that needed to be said by anyone in the group. There were no leaders that stepped up to let everyone know that the party would end at a reasonable hour because they felt nothing needed to be said. A “sense of professionalism” was long ago established in the clubhouse and eliminated the need for any speech about not partying too hard, according to Cole.
And if you’re expecting shindig to continue on the flight to Houston, think again.
“I’m hoping we do some scouting reports on the plane so we can sleep in,” Cole said.