It won’t be easy, though.
|Gm 1||Oct. 13||8 p.m.||NYY @ HOU||FS1|
|Gm 2||Oct. 14||4 p.m.||NYY @ HOU||FOX|
|Gm 3||Oct. 16||8 p.m.||HOU @ NYY||FS1|
|Gm 4||Oct. 17||TBD||HOU @ NYY||FOX/FS1|
|*Gm 5||Oct. 18||TBD||HOU @ NYY||FOX/FS1|
|*Gm 6||Oct. 20||TBD||NYY @ HOU||FOX/FS1|
|*Gm 7||Oct. 21||TBD||NYY @ HOU||FOX/FS1|
Not against an Astros team that, after winning 101 regular-season games, knocked off the Red Sox in four games in the ALDS in its bid for the first World Series championship in franchise history.
And not against baseball’s postseason history. Yes, the Yanks did win the winner-take-all game, but that doesn’t necessarily bode well. History says there is a price to be paid for those win-or-go-home matchups.
Since the postseason was expanded to include a best-of-five League Championship Series to qualify for the World Series until now, when the postseason includes a one-game Wild Card showdown and four best-of-five Division Series in addition to the two LCS, which are now best-of-seven, and the World Series, it has become apparent that thet emotion of a season coming down to one game carries a burden for the team that advances.
Sixty-two teams have survived a winner-take-all game at some point in the postseason — including the 2012 Giants in both the National League Division Series and the National League Championship Series en route to a World Series championship and the 2012 Cardinals in both the NL Wild Card Game and the NLDS before being eliminated by the Giants in the NLCS.
Only 16 of the 62 went on to win a World Series.Of the 10 teams to win in the first five years of the Wild Card Game (2012-16), five lost in the Division Series, and two advanced to the World Series, both in ’14, when the Giants beat the Royals in, fittingly, seven games.
Since the Division Series became a regular part of the postseason in 1995, it has gone a full five games 27 times, and the team that won Game 5 lost in the ensuing LCS 16 times.
The trend doesn’t continue into the final round, though. In the LCS, which was expanded from a best-of-five series to a best-of-seven in 1985, seven of the 15 teams that won a Game 7 won the World Series. Before ’85, five of the 10 that won a Game 5 also won a World Championship.
The Cardinals have won seven win-or-go-home games, including in the NLCS in 2006, when they won the World Series. They also won a Game 7 in the NLCS in 1987 and 2004 but lost in the World Series both times. The Cards won the NL Wild Card Game in 2012 and also took the NLDS in five games that year, but they lost in six games in the NLCS. They also won a Game 5 in the 2011 and the ’13 NLDS.
The Yankees were in their seventh win-or-go-home showdown against the Indians on Wednesday. Twice, they have gone on to win World Series — in 2000 and 1977 — and once, in 2001, they lost in the World Series.
Twenty-eight teams before this season have lost in the series immediately after winning that win-or-go-home game. And while the Yanks went into Wednesday trying to buck that trend, the D-backs, who won the NL Wild Card Game, were swept by the Dodgers in the NLDS.
Tracy Ringolsby, the 2005 recipient of the Hall of Fame’s Spink Award, has covered Major League Baseball since 1976. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.