When does a Stadium make a home? With less than a week left in the regular season, the Yankees are quite comfortable at their new ballpark and boast the best home record of any team in baseball.
The new Yankee Stadium could be part showplace/part weapon in October because the Yankees hold home-field advantage through the playoffs after clinching the American League's best record on Sunday.
"We play so well here, it's going to be huge," Andy Pettitte said. "The fans are great and the last couple months, I don't know what it is, but we've felt like we're not going to lose here. That's been fun. We're just playing with a whole lot of confidence at home. I know the starters, if we get down a couple runs, it doesn't faze you because you believe we're going to score."
The Yankees were 56-23 at home after Monday night's 8-2 win over the Royals, a .709 winning percentage. They have won 30 of their last 37 home games since the All-Star break and are 50-16 since Alex Rodriguez's first game at the new park on May 15 after starting out 6-7 under a cloud of talk that the park was a homer haven.
"One of the biggest things in having home-field advantage is in the way you can use your bullpen," Yanks manager Joe Girardi said. "In the ninth, tie game, you're going to use your closer and anytime we can use Mo, we want him out there."
Talk of dinky homers has subsided as the season has progressed. But the possibility that the Stadium was a launching pad bedeviled the pitching staff early in the season, pitching coach Dave Eiland said. The pitchers got over it.This is a team built for this stadium; strikeout pitchers and home run hitters. Also, the new place has certainly been a tough place to play for the opposition throughout the year, and there's no reason why that should change next week. How many times has a pitcher thrown his hands up in frustration as a ball he thought was a flyout landed in the first few rows of seats? The Yankees probably have the media to thank too, all those band box stories may have struck just enough fear in pitcher's minds. There's a good chance that because of all that talk every time a pitcher comes into to the place that's probably in the back of his mind.
"There's no doubt it took us a while to settle in and feel like it was home," Pettitte said. "But we've been able to win in our last at-bat and come back in the middle of games, too. The ballpark's played well for us and we've got a lot of confidence."
How much of a homefield advantage do you think the Yankees will have when the games start to matter again?