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Yankees must return from upcoming West Coast trip with record intact


In the Yankees clubhouse Sunday, the music was on and most of the players were having a good time putting on their matching “Savages” button-up shirts. It was a rare atmosphere in the Bronx after a loss, but they left New York in a good mood and in a pretty a good spot.

The Yankees flew out to the West Coast for a nine-game road trip with a one-game lead over the Dodgers, who they will face next weekend, for the best record in baseball. Perhaps more importantly, they held a three-game lead in the loss column over the Astros for the best record in the American League.

Now, they have to make sure they come home in — at least — that same position of their hopes of ending a decade-long World Series drought. The Yankees’ drive to “do something special” in October begins and ends in the Bronx.

“That’s the biggest thing. Even though we’re going down the stretch and we got a lead in our division, we’re not going to stop. We want to keep winning,” Yankees slugger Aaron Judge said after Sunday’s loss. “That’s big. Especially now. You know how rowdy this place gets in the postseason and how crazy these fans are. We love it. We feed off of that energy. We’ve got to keep winning and make sure we keep that home-field advantage for the postseason.”

The Yankees have been quite respectable on the road this season. They take a 34-23 road record into Oakland to begin a three-game series on Tuesday. The Yankees have yet to see the scrappy A’s this season, who are beginning their annual second-half surge and are sitting 1.5 games behind the Rays for the second wild card.

It’s just that this team has been built to win in the Bronx and that’s what they have done. With hitters who are able to take advantage of the short porch in right field, the Yankees leave the Stadium with a 49-20 record there.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, however, with 36 games remaining in the regular season they have just 12 more games back in the Bronx. They have 15 games against teams with a .500 record or better and just three of those at home.

Aaron Judge and the rest of the Yankees know they are best at home and will need to return from their upcoming road trip with their lead in the American League intact to secure home field advantage come October. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

“The major league season is filled with different challenges. Today we just finished 19 games in 17 days with, until today, four healthy starting pitchers. That’s a challenge. Travel at times, going to London, that can be a challenge,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Going on the road, these are different challenges in the major league season that you kind of look forward to. We get to go out on the West Coast and play a couple of good teams, obviously. But (we) look forward to going out there.”

The Yankees are going to have to get comfortable on the road, at least for the near future, with 24 games outside of New York, including 12 against teams with a winning record.

Judge said, ‘Bring it on.”

“We know what type of teams we’re facing. We’re going up against Oakland and the Dodgers and Seattle, some good ball clubs right there. Especially that Dodgers series,” Judge said. “It’s going to be like another postseason matchup right there, so it’s going to be rowdy and we’re motivated for those. We can’t wait. We want to play the best teams, and those are some of the best teams out there, so I’m looking forward to it.”

That said, Boone seemed to be trying to tamp down the pressure on winning home field advantage.

“We’re great in this building, we feel like we have a tremendous home-field advantage” Boone said. “So we want to rack up as many wins as we can with that hope.

“But we also know that we’re capable of beating anyone when we put our best foot forward no matter where we play.’

Well, maybe the Yankees didn’t put their best foot forward in Houston in 2017 — or this year. The Astros, which has seemed to be the most likely road block to the Yankees in the American League this season, won the 2017 American League Championship Series in Game 7 at Minute Maid Park. The Yankees lost all four games of that series in Houston, winning all three in the Bronx.

That was under a different manager with a different team. The core of those over-achieving Baby Bombers, however, are back. This team has been built up around them.

But still, when the Yankees went in there this season, back in April, the Astros swept the three game series.

The first step to getting back to the World Series for the first time this decade will be the Yankees getting back to the Bronx for that Aug. 30 series opener against the A’s with its AL lead intact.