CLEVELAND — Luke Voit called it “BS” on Tuesday and DJ LeMahieu basically said it was not an issue at all. All that talk about the Yankees' home-and-road splits was nonsense to them.
“It’s a 60 game season, I feel like 30 games probably isn’t quite enough to be making too strong of opinions on,” LeMahieu said before Wednesday night’s Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series against Cleveland at Progressive Field. “When our offense is clicking, it doesn’t matter where we’re at.”
The Yankees went 11-18 on the road during this coronavirus pandemic-shortened season with pretty dramatic offensive splits. That cost them the right to host this opening-round best-of-three games series in the Bronx. Tuesday night, the Yankees' offense was clicking and Progressive Field might as well have been in the Bronx.
They absolutely clobbered Cleveland ace Shane Bieber, who not only won the Triple Crown this season, but is also the hands down favorite to win the AL Cy Young.
It didn’t surprise LeMahieu at all.
“It’s no secret that we were inconsistent this year, kind of all around. But at the same time, we did a good job of turning the page and the playoffs are different,” LeMahieu said. "Whether you have had an inconsistent year, you can turn it on and whether you have a great year, you can lose it real quickly.
“I just think we’re in a really good spot," LeMahieu continued. "I thought we had a really, really good game plan for Bieber. His stuff was very good. I just feel like we had a really good plan. Really good approach, and we executed really well.”
LeMahieu, who finished the regular season as the 2020 AL batting champion, becoming the first man in the modern era to win the title in both leagues, said this is what is expected this time of year.
“We knew deep down that we haven’t been ourselves consistently,” LeMahieu said. “Now we’ve known that we felt that we knew we were better than what we’re doing. And like I said, I feel like we turned the page on the regular season. Really came out last night and played with focus.”
GARDY POSTSEASON PARTY
Brett Gardner got his second straight start in the playoffs Wednesday night. The 37-year-old veteran outfielder got the start over Clint Frazier, who had a breakout season, a day after he had three hits, including a home run, and drove in three.
“I wanted him back in there tonight, especially after continuing to build on what’s been a real strong finish for him,” Aaron Boone said. “The thing that makes it difficult is the confidence I also have in Clint, and Mike Tauchman for that matter, but, I think definitely it’s the right thing to get him back in there and hopefully, build on a big first night.”
A LITTLE INSIDE INFO
Matt Blake was the pitching coordinator with Cleveland during the years that Shane Bieber (Tuesday night’s starter) and many of these pitchers came of age. Now in his first year with the Yankees as the pitching coach, the Bombers certainly tapped into that knowledge base a little.
“I don’t think he was that involved necessarily with the offensive game plan," the Yankees manager said, "but I definitely think certainly we leaned on him for some information and some things, kind of giving you some context of some of their starting pitchers who he’s been around a lot, some of their relievers.
“But along with our scouts that have been watching these guys for several weeks now, coupled with the analytical information we get here,” Boone continued. "You add all that up and feel like you have a pretty good idea of an opponent.”
With the expanded playoffs, to help MLB owners offset losses from a shortened regular season played without fans in the ballparks, came an NCAA tournament-like atmosphere for baseball on Wednesday. There were eight games on television from noon to late into the night.
For players, coaches and managers, who are first and foremost fans of the game, it’s been a fun new twist.
“It’s cool. I’ve been in my office a lot, kind of getting ready with the games on, flipping back and forth and seeing what’s going on in the league,” Boone said. “This is one of the good things about this expanded playoff this year. I’m sure real baseball fans are in a little bit of heaven today to get to see all these games.”
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