When the Yankees return from Buffalo late next Thursday night, they will check into a New York hotel and play the final three games of the regular season while living in a bubble atmosphere.
Should they not grab the fourth seed in the AL postseason, the Yankees would open on the road and never play at Yankee Stadium again until next year because, following the first round, all playoff games will be played with teams in housing bubbles in Texas and California.
So, Aaron Boone packed two suitcases for a five-to-six week trip he hopes ends with the Yankees’ first World Series title since 2009.
“It was bye to wife, mother-in-law and kids,’’ Boone said before the Yankees topped the Blue Jays, 10-7, at Yankee Stadium on Thursday evening. “Hopefully for a little while.’’
Asked if it was tough to say so long, Boone agreed but explained it is all part of a very weird season.
“Yeah, but understanding we signed up for this and my family is very supportive, and with school back in and things going on, their world is very busy right now, too,’’ Boone said. “Try to make the most of FaceTime and hopefully come home with a prize.’’
Aaron Judge’s opinion of being put in a postseason bubble hasn’t changed.
“I am not a fan of the bubble, not a fan of the whole set up,’’ Judge said. “Like I said before, it doesn’t reward a team for going out and winning. There really is no home-field advantage anymore. To be put into a bubble before the playoffs. I thought we were doing that this whole season.’’
Boone didn’t say he is ready to pair staff ace Gerrit Cole with catcher Kyle Higashioka in the postseason, but the manager said that scenario is on the table.
“Definitely something we are considering. Obviously, it’s been a good pairing,’’ Boone said one day after Cole and Higashioka worked well for a third straight game in a 13-2 win, in which Cole allowed a run and three hits in seven innings.
Boone’s other option is to start Gary Sanchez with Cole, but there are several reasons why that might not work out. One, if Giancarlo Stanton is healthy, he will be the DH, and that leaves no room in the lineup for Sanchez. And if Sanchez is behind the plate, Cole’s numbers are much better with Higashioka than Sanchez.
In three games throwing to Higashioka, who has caught Cole’s last three starts, Cole has a 0.90 ERA, has held hitters to a .127 average and a .395 OPS. In eight games working with Sanchez, Cole has a 3.91 ERA, hitters are batting .224 and have a .776 OPS.
“I do like the page and the rhythm Higgy and Gerrit have been in here these last few [games] so it is something I am considering,’’ Boone said.
As for setting up Cole and Masahiro Tanaka to start the first two games of the postseason, preparing the right-handers for that is being discussed. On a normal schedule, Cole and Tanaka would start the final two games of the regular season, and that isn’t likely to happen because they wouldn’t have regular rest for the first two postseason games.
“Those are conversations we are starting to have,’’ Boone said of how best prepare his Game 1 and Game 2 starters for the postseason, which starts Sept. 29, two days after the regular season ends.
Gleyber Torres returned to the lineup Thursday night after not starting the previous three games due to a quadriceps problem and went 1-for-5 with a homer.
Brett Gardner’s homer in the fourth inning was his 73rd at the current Yankee Stadium and pushed him past Alex Rodriguez for third on the all-time list. He trails Mark Teixeira (113) and Robinson Cano (82).
Sanchez doubled in the seven-run fourth and homered in the eighth. It was Sanchez’s 114th homer in his 413 big-league game. That is the third-most in major league history after 413 games. Ryan Howard (129) is first and Judge (119) is second.
This Post first appeared on “New York Post”