Yankees using playoff loss to Astros as motivational fuel


TAMPA — It was the latest crazy, tumultuous end to another season for the Yankees and Yankees fans, but it was George M. Steinbrenner has taken the field and will accompany them north as they begin their pursuit of that elusive 28th World Series Championship. 14th consecutive season.

It’s been more than three months since the Astros slapped the Yankees silly and danced on their Yankee Stadium grave the minute the four-game ALCS sweep ended.

Time heals all wounds, but it still hasn’t healed, and the Yankees are okay with that because they now say the memory of such an infamous Rocktober Bottom has lit a fire inside them and made them sick more. Sick and tired. And more tired than ever.

“It was the first time I’d ever felt that kind of pain in the big leagues,” Isiah Kinner-Flefa told the Post. “You feel that in high school up and coming, but that was my first taste of how much it really hurts in the big leagues. You get so far away, you get so close with a team, and to be embarrassed the way we did, it’s not good, and I think in a way it’s an opportunity for us going into the offseason. was Different mentality, a little more important in the offseason. Everyone seems like they made big strides in the offseason because last year was so bad. So I’m just hoping that we can stay healthy all season long and see those guys again, or whatever it may be. But I think it left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth, and we’re ready to redeem ourselves. “

Redeem the team, anyone?

Michael King said last year’s Yankees’ playoff loss to the Astros is motivating this year’s team to improve.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“I think it’s still in the back of a lot of minds here,” Clay Holmes said. “That’s what drives us I think, especially coming here this spring.”

Ace reliever Michael King was removed for the cheerleaders after a July elbow stress fracture.

“The way we mixed and the vibe was something I hadn’t felt in my four years here,” King said. “I thought last year was the best team we’ve fielded in terms of chemistry and talent. We always talk about the teams that get hot in the playoffs being the teams that have magic. And I felt like we never quite reached that magical point.

“But the attitude coming in here is that we can’t just be satisfied with being the best team in baseball in the regular season, or winning the AL East, we can’t be satisfied like that.”

The Yankees don’t just have to knock on the World Series door. It’s past time for them to kick the door down, and they all know it, from Hank Steinbrenner to Brian Cashman to Aaron Boone to Captain Aaron Judge.

“I know that resonates all the way through the front office in terms of offseason moves, because they see the same thing,” King said. “There’s a different attitude after a loss like that. It’s obviously great to be back here to see everyone, but you know we all have a goal in mind, and that fuels the fire. “

Aaron Judge, signing autographs for Yankees fans before their spring training game against the Pirates, said last year's playoff loss to the Astros still stings.
Aaron Judge, signing autographs for Yankees fans before their spring training game against the Pirates, said last year’s playoff loss to the Astros still stings.
Getty Images

The Astros won Game 7 in Houston to beat the Yankees in the 2017 ALCS and Game 6 in Houston to beat the Yankees in the 2019 ALCS. Then came Rockburt Bottom.

“I think any time you lose, especially at home, it stings,” Judge said. “I’m going back to losing the ALDS to the Red Sox in 2018 when they beat us on our field. [in Game 4] and eventually went on to win the World Series. They all sting, I wouldn’t say one more than the other because a loss is a loss. “

Asked if he saw the Astros whooped and hollered that Bronx night, Judge said: “I was the last batter, so I grabbed my stuff and walked out.”

He has a historic 62 home run season over.

“It was very painful,” Nestor Cortes said. “This is a team that has beaten us every time we enter the LCS. I think we have to get over that hump to get there. It was a dagger for them to celebrate and sweep us in four games, so hopefully we can turn that around this year.”

Holmes watched the Astros defeat the Phillies in the World Series.

“Obviously you sit there and imagine how things would be if we were there,” he said. “I just kept imagining to myself, ‘I have to be in this moment, what am I going to do if I’m in this moment?’ Obviously that’s where we wanted to be, and I think our minds were in some capacity.

All is well and good that their minds are all on the march. Better that their minds are all there in October.

“When you’re stuck at home, it’s never a good feeling,” Clark Schmidt said. “It definitely leaves a sour taste in your mouth. It puts a little hunger in your butt and makes you want to put in a lot of work to get back out there and be able to come back next year and do it with them. It definitely motivates us a lot. “

King briefly watched the Astros’ Yankee Stadium party.

“It’s good to see,” he said. “It’s uncomfortable to watch, but it’s good to have that motivation. But I don’t want to see it for more than two seconds. I watched a bit of it, and then returned to the clubhouse.

Rocktober Bottom.

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