NEW YORK -- Minutes after a 6-1 win over the Twins gave them an American League Division Series sweep on Saturday night, the Yankees' majestic clubhouse became one giant mess of goggles, tarps, corks and champagne.
New York has plenty of reason to be excited right now, and it goes beyond the fact CC Sabathia won't have to pitch on short rest in Round 1 and the simple notion that, well, the club is advancing.
The numbers say so, too.
Consider this ...
The Yankees have swept the ALDS three other times -- in 1998, '99 and 2009 -- and each of those times, the club has gone on to win the World Series.
In the nine years they've won the ALDS -- one of which was an extra series added in the strike-shortened 1981 season -- New York has advanced to the Fall Classic eight times. The exception? In 2004, when New York lost to the Red Sox in the ALCS.
And in 13 AL Championship Series, the Yanks are 11-2, including 3-0 without home-field advantage.
But after advancing to the ALCS for the first time as a Wild Card team, the only number the Yankees were thinking about was five -- as in, the amount of days they'll have off before they have to play again.
"We definitely need those days," said closer Mariano Rivera, who notched the save with, as usual, a 1-2-3 ninth inning. "The team is banged-up a little bit. ... Those days off, it's going to be good for us, and we have to be ready for whoever wins on the other side."
The Yankees are now 10-6 all-time in the ALDS and have notched 13 postseason sweeps in their illustrious history. Their current nine-game winning streak against the Twins -- dating back to Game 2 of the 2004 ALDS -- is tied for the third-longest winning streak by one team over one opponent in postseason history. The streak it's tied with? The Yankees' active nine-game winning streak against potential ALCS opponent Texas, which dates back to 1996.
But despite outscoring Minnesota, 17-7, in this series, Yankees manager Joe Girardi felt the pendulum could have easily swung in the other direction.
|Red Sox||11 wins||Angels||10/12/86-10/3/08|
|Athletics||10 wins||Red Sox||10/5/88-10/2/03|
"I look at every game, and they all could have went either way," said Girardi, now 14-4 with the Yankees in the postseason. "A hit here and there."
The Yankees are making their 15th postseason appearance in the last 16 years and 49th all time -- most by any Major League franchise. They have a .605 all-time winning percentage in postseason play (216-141-1) and are 39-27 in the Division Series.
By leading throughout all of Game 3, New York snapped a streak of eight postseason games in which it has come back to win against the same opponent -- a Major League record, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
As far as reigning champions go, the Yankees are the sixth franchise since the 1969 expansion to win a World Series and then open the next postseason with a series sweep. They also did it in 1998-99.
"Everyone in here came here ready to get it over with today, and we were fortunate to do it," shortstop Derek Jeter said. "We've had that mindset."
Now, it's time to move on.
But first, it's time for rest. The Yankees will do so while awaiting their ALCS opponent, which will either be the Rays -- a division rival they battled all year and finished the regular season 8-10 against -- or the Rangers, whom they split eight games against this season.
If it is the Rangers -- the club that holds a 2-1 ALDS lead vs. Tampa Bay -- the Yankees will have another number in their favor: Like the Twins, they've won nine straight playoff games against them, too. (The two teams, however, haven't faced each other in the postseason since 1999.)
But the Yankees are a veteran group. They know not to get ahead of themselves. And they know how to keep this numbers thing simple.
Just ask Marcus Thames.
"That's three wins down," the champagne-soaked designated hitter said after Saturday's win, "and we have eight more to go."