The New York Yankees cruised their way to a Game 1 win over the Houston Astros, and they now can make an emphatic statement against Justin Verlander.
After setting the tone Saturday night with a 7-0 win against the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the ALCS, one thing became clear. The 2019 New York Yankees are different.
Led by the sensationally talented 22-year-old infielder in Gleyber Torres, the Yankees commanded their way to big series-opening win. They got a stellar outing from Masahiro Tanaka. They were finding barrels all night against Astros starter Zack Greinke.
After that big win, the Yankees face a tough challenge Sunday night in Game 2. Now, they must battle it out against a nemesis. Now, they have to face the ace of the staff in Justin Verlander. And while this will be a much more difficult challenge, the Yankees can make a statement.
Throughout the playoffs, there has been a theme. It has come in the form of questioning whether the Yankees can handle an elite pitcher like Verlander. Sure, Greinke is a great pitcher, and his stuff proves so. But, there are few in the league that has the same mentality and production of Verlander.
As the Yankees return to Minute Maid Park for the Sunday night bout, they can make a statement that shows just how elite this offense is. If they can show the same discipline and barrel ability against Verlander—a tough task in its own right—they will show to the baseball world that this offense doesn’t make them underdogs.
Things are different in 2019 than they were in 2017 when the Bronx Bombers were one game away from the World Series. They didn’t have the emerging star in Torres—who collected five RBIs in Game 1. They didn’t have the ever-steady, robot-like DJ LeMahieu, who is arguably the best all-around hitter in the league. In addition, they didn’t have an Aaron Judge that has been through it all.
The test that Verlander presents is easily the biggest the Yankees have faced this postseason. He’s the elite of the elite when it comes to reliability in the biggest games. It truly will be a challenge for the Yankees offense to get in the same rhythm as Game 1.
However, they can make an emphatic statement on Sunday night against Verlander. That statement is simple.
These 2019 Yankees are different.