As the clock ticked toward the minute at which the Yankees would have to board their bus to the airport for their plane ride back to New York on Saturday night, it was clear that
"Alex, you have home field advantage now -- can you give us your thoughts?"
"It's good to be home... Best-of-five now."
"Where do you think you're at right now?"
"OK. Would like to get some more hits. But the series is early. Best-of-five now."
Yes, the ALCS, which resumes Monday night in the Bronx, has been whittled down to a best-of-five series, with
Of course, in some ways -- and despite the fact that they now hold home-field advantage, for whatever that's worth -- the Yankees are starting this best-of-five set in a worse position than they would have been before an ALDS Game 1. For one thing, while the Rangers will be able to open with the man who is not only their ace, but probably the ace of this postseason full of aces -- you know Lee's playoff resume by now, have seen how his already cool basket-catching demeanor chills even more along with the weather -- the Yankees will counter not with their own ace,
An even graver problem for the Yankees, however, is the man who they continue to insist will start Game 4 for them on Tuesday,
Girardi also indicated that his belief in Burnett is inextricably tied to the weather; if there is a rainout that would allow him to push his other starters to a schedule in which they'd have normal rest, he might no longer believe in A.J. "I know there's some weather in our forecast," Girardi said. When you are sticking to your plan to start a player whose 2010 ERA was the third-worst among the 92 players who qualified for either league's ERA crown, even though a loss by that player could mean a 3-1 series deficit and the probable conclusion of your hopes for a second-straight World Series, you become not only a baseball manager but an amateur meteorologist.
The good news for the Rangers doesn't end there. They have proved, perhaps once and for all, that they can beat the Yankees in October, and that they are a more versatile team with more ways of attacking when things go wrong. The extended injuries to many of their key components (including
This doesn't mean that Game 3 is exactly a "must-win" for the Yankees -- for a team that possesses their ability to all at once come back, there really isn't such a thing as a "must-win," except if their opponent actually has three wins already in a best-of-seven series. But a start by Lee was once one that the Yankees thought they could probably punt with little impact on their chances of winning the series. Now, even though it's not a must-win, it's certainly a game that they'd very much like to win. The Yankees have home-field advantage in the ALCS. But they no longer have the advantage.