Without much time to celebrate, Yankees open AL final series against Astros

Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and their teammates barely had time to celebrate at Yankee Stadium. They had to play a game in Houston, and soon.

Judge and Stanton homered, and the New York Yankees beat the Cleveland Guardians 5-1 Tuesday night in Game 5 of the AL Division Series.

The final out, which Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres marked by cradling the ball to mimic the “rock the baby” move Cleveland’s Josh Naylor used after homering a night earlier off Gerrit Cole, came shortly after. before 7:30 pm in New York.

That meant the Yankees had less than 24 hours before playing Game 1 of the AL Championship Series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday night.

“The challenge is we’re up against a great team,” Yankees coach Aaron Boone said. “As far as lap speed, we’ll be fine. That’s baseball. We do it all the time. We’ll go in there with some confidence. We know they’re a great team and they’re rested and ready.”

The matchup will pit the AL’s top two teams, the 106-win Astros and the 99-win Yankees, who appeared to be on a collision course for this season-long ALCS rematch. Houston won the regular season series 5-2.

Houston beat the Yankees in the 2019 ALCS when José Altuve homered in the bottom of the ninth off Aroldis Chapman in Game 6.

The Astros outscored the Yankees in the 2017 ALCS in seven games and reached their only World Series — it was a title that has since been tainted after the Astros were found to have illicitly stolen signs that season.

Altuve, a three-time batting champion, went 0-for-16 in Houston’s three-game sweep of Seattle in the ALDS. The star second baseman hit .300 with 28 home runs in the regular season.

“This guy has been good for a long time,” Astros coach Dusty Baker said. “Sometimes he’s not always up. Sometimes, no matter how big you are, sometimes there are down times … but I’m expecting big things from Altuve. Because he expects big things from himself.”

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Without much time to celebrate, Yankees open AL final series against Astros