Sunday, October 10, 2010 Updated: October 11, 9:19 PM ET
Why the Yanks can't fail to advance
By Rob Parker ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees will make it to the World Series for the second year in a row.
How can't they?
Things couldn't be set up more perfectly than they are.
With their three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins in the American League Division Series on Saturday night at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees are in the driver's seat for the next round. All they need to do is get some rest, load everybody on the bus and play like they have thus far in the postseason.
"It's always good to go ahead, win and advance to the next round as soon as possible,'' centerfielder Curtis Granderson said. "We're going to enjoy the moment, hopefully get everybody back to 100 percent.
"I don't think anybody is that dinged up. But rest is always good. And we can get ready for our next opponent.''
Pettitte's performance against the Twins gives the Yanks even more reason for optimism.
The ALCS won't start until Friday, giving the Yankees a full five days' rest. Not only can they get everybody rested and healthy, but they can also push people when it comes time for the best-of-seven series against either the Texas Rangers or the Tampa Bay Rays.
Although most teams would rather not stop when they are playing well, the layoff will work for the Yankees. By disposing of the Twins quickly and painlessly, it sets up the perfect scenario for ace CC Sabathia. The lefty will be able to pitch Games 1, 4 and 7, if need be. That's just a huge advantage, given that their potential opponents will need to lean on their aces just for a shot at the Yanks. "I'll be ready to go whenever they want me to take the ball,'' said Sabathia about potentially making three starts in the LCS.
The Yankees also have two confident starters to follow Sabathia. Any doubt about Andy Pettitte should be gone after his gem in Game 2. They also got a suitable-for-framing first postseason start out of Phil Hughes, who pitched seven shutout innings in the clincher.
Hughes, who started strong and struggled in the second half, has to be nothing but confident from this point on. His re-emergence makes what once was considered a questionable rotation heading into the playoffs much stronger.
"It does put us in a nice spot for the next round,'' Sabathia said. "It feels good to be able to close it out on the first try, get our rest and be ready to go Friday.''
Last year at this time, the Yankees needed Alex Rodriguez's heroics in order to sweep the Twins. This time around, A-Rod was quiet. He had a hit in every game, but there was no big moment-grabbing home run.
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You can bet, though, it won't be long before Rodriguez makes his presence felt.
The Yankees also got contributions from a lot of different players in the series. Granderson had a huge hit in Game 1 versus a lefty. Lance Berkman came up with a huge home run in Game 2. DH Marcus Thames also had a big two-run homer in the clincher.
They also got Mariano Rivera back. After a shaky September, Mo looked like Mo, getting saves in the first two games of the series, re-establishing himself as the best in the business when it comes to the postseason.
And the last piece of this perfectly positioned squad is manager Joe Girardi, who has pulled all the right strings and pushed all the right buttons. Of course, Girardi will never be considered for AL Manager of the Year, but he has managed like an award winner. Girardi now has even more time to get his ducks in a row. That's a scary thought.
"We'll know by Tuesday,'' he said about whom the Yankees will play. "We've seen one team a whole lot and the other team twice in the last two months.''
The Yankees are right where they want to be. That's why they have no excuse not to reach their 2010 goal -- a trip back to the World Series to defend their title.
Rob Parker is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com.More from ESPNNewYork.com »