Yankees Pregame Notebook: Will the Yankees turn the page or close the book on 2018?
"In the postseason, losses are almost always complete gut punches, but you have to be able to get past it and learn from things," Boone said. "You process all that happened and get past it, because the next day, the next play, is so damn important. That's part of the game."
In this all-important game, the Yankees will turn to their elder statesman and leader, CC Sabathia. A team as analytical as the Yankees knows CC, who goes on 11 days' rest, had a 2.01 ERA in eight starts with six or more days' rest this year, and that he's good the first time through an order (248/.314/.340 slash line), great the second (.208/.294/.376), and not so much the third (.328/.376/.547).
The team also knows that Sabathia went five innings or less in 14 of 29 starts and hasn't gone more than six since June, but this time, that might not even be close to what the Yankees expect.
"I'm not going to put a limit or even an expectation on it, we just want him to be as effective as he can be, for as long as he can be," Boone said. "What happens from there all kind of depends on how the game is going. Because we're rested in our bullpen, especially with the high-leverage guys, we feel like we have a lot of length on them, but if he's rolling along and we have a lead…I want him to go out and pitch his game, and we'll see how far it takes us."
The lineup behind Sabathia is completely different from any other game this series. Aaron Hicks returns to center field but Brett Gardner stays (this time in left), so Andrew McCutchen is on the bench, and Neil Walker is replacing Miguel Andujar at third base.
The former could be seen as a way to get the Yankees' other veteran leader on the field, and the latter is something the Yankees have done a lot with Sabathia on the mound, but both moves were more about match-up, and thought about well in advance.
"This was probably something we've been thinking about the last couple days, and we just wanted to get some more lefty balance in the lineup tonight against Porcello," Boone said. "Obviously with Hicks going down, Gardy has been in there anyway, but even before that, this was a game we viewed as having both him and Walk, who has played a number of games at third and especially with CC On the mound, in there to give us a little more balance in a matchup that makes some sense."
If the buttons Boone pushes aren't the right ones tonight, the Yankees' season will be over, but once again, he's confident that yesterday's just a memory.
"We've done it all year, and that's one thing I think this group does a really good job of," Boone said. "I feel like they're really good at letting yesterday roll off and coming out to perform the next day, and I'm confident they'll do that today."
A few more notes and quotes from Boone ahead of Game 4:
-More from Boone on learning from decisions that don't go the right way, especially in October: "A lot of times decisions you make aren't just black and white - they're decisions that have a couple of different ways you can go that make sense. You evaluate everything, and hopefully you're right, but afterwards, you analyze them, move on, and hopefully always continue to grow from things that have happened. I think I do a pretty good job of turning the page, but you always work through things or play them out differently in your head."
-How does the skipper feel about Sabathia, and how might the team feel? "We feel like CC physically is in a good place right now, coming off a really good start at the end of the year. I feel like his knee is in a good place and feel like he's been pretty good when we've been able to give him that rest, so we feel good about giving him the ball. Obviously, everyone in that room looks at CC as someone they admire, but I think they feel good no matter who we give the ball to."
-Also, here's the skipper's scouting report on Rick Porcello: "He's been a really good pitcher in this league now for a long time. A guy that has command, that is able to pitch, especially as he's evolved through his career. He's a guy that can pitch on two planes. You know he's got that sinking fastball that's a factor, and he'll cut it, too, but he'll also work at the top of the zone with his four-seamer, and mix in a good breaking ball. This is a guy that can really pitch, that has some versatility on the mound in the way he's able to attack different styles of hitters, and when he's on with that and with his command, he can be very tough."
-Last word from Boone is this, a long answer when asked about lineup construction, vis-à-vis Brock Holt not being in Boston's lineup a night after hitting for the cycle: "A lot of things are a part of the decision-making process that go in to making a lineup. I think, first and foremost, you have a number of guys that are everyday guys that are pretty much going to be in there regardless of matchup. But then there's a handful of decisions where it comes down to matchup: left on left, left on right, this guy's skill set against whoever's on the mound, defensive alignment. So many things are baked into the cake as far as helping you make those decisions, and how you weigh those kinds of things varies day-by-day."
Q. Aaron, when you have a starter going well like Tanaka the other night, how difficult is it to maybe fight your instinct to want to leave him in as opposed to going to the bullpen? And compare that to a similar decision in the regular season.