NEW YORK – The Yankees got home from their six-game wild ride early Thursday morning, then had to head to Yankee Stadium later in the day to start another series.
But the opponents in this weekend’s four-match group will likely have wiped out any slack or fatigue that Aaron Boone’s club may have been suffering from.
The Houston Astros have a way of injecting extra life into any stadium they travel to.
Not only because of what happened in the past, but they are another team that holds the number one spot.
“I think it’s a series of shooters at a difficult time,” Boone said before the series opened on Thursday.
While Boone said the fallout from the Astros’ electronic signal theft scandal, which cost the Yanks in 2017, is “earlier history” for him, the manager didn’t deny there was more at stake.
The stage is a little bigger, the lights are brighter. This “past history” still ignites the rivalry between the two teams.
The Yankees lost in 2017 to the Astros in the ALCS – General Manager Brian Cashman called the Astros’ cheating “illegal and appalling” during an interview with The Athletic in March, and said it hampered his team’s chances of advancing to the world championship.
Jose Altov, captain of the Astros II, will almost certainly hear the bulk of the vitriol from the stadium audience.
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“You know Yankee Stadium is going to be revitalized and hopefully we can feed it a little bit and you’re going to have a great opponent,” Boone said. “And the rivalry that’s there definitely has something to do with the past as well. I think our guys are looking forward to that and love to play on the biggest stages against the best teams.”
And those are really two of the best teams in baseball.
While the Yankees played at historic pace, entering Thursday with an impressive 51-18 record after winning 11 of their previous 13 games to cement their lead at the top of the MLS East, Dusty Baker Astros came in on day 43-25 by a narrow margin. 10 games ahead of the Texas Rangers, who finished second in Al West.
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Like the Yankees, Houston is among the best in baseball with an explosive attack and stingy crew.
It’s finished, Boone said. “Amazing depth in their bases, a really good start, they catch the ball, they are athletic and they have a great attack. They are a whole team, maybe a whole team like we played. To be challenging.”
It remains to be seen if this is a playoff preview.
But for now, at least, the four-game weekend series will give the stadium a charged atmosphere.
Perfect for a Yankees in the middle of a long game.
“I think that’s been one of the great things about Yankee Stadium, especially so far this year,” Boone said. “We kind of had that smoothie. There were some really good environments here and the ambiance. I definitely expect that when we get off a road trip we’re going out there tonight and it’s going to be very energetic.”