Wendell Cruz | USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees came through when it mattered most and won Game 5 of the ALDS against the Guardians. Now comes a third date with the rival Astros in the ALCS.

It was everything New York fans have come to expect from the Yankees this year. Giancarlo Stanton came through with a big home run in October. Aaron Judge tacked on another run with a homer of his own. Nestor Cortes and the bullpen proved near untouchable.

Here’s what we learned:

Nestor Cortes is an ace-quality arm. Nestor Cortes is 27 years old, 5’11” on a good day, and doesn’t have a ton of fastball velocity. Pitching on three days’ rest in Game 5, he showed why he’s the perfect counterpunch to ace Gerrit Cole. His command was even better than it was in Game 2 through five innings of one-run ball.

Cortes likely won’t pitch again until ALCS Game 4. What will be on the line for the Yankees then? We’ll soon find out.

Wandy Peralta was the MVP. The safe answer for the Yankees’ ALDS MVP is Gerrit Cole, who shut the Guardians down in Games 1 and 4. In reality, the series MVP is lefty reliever Wandy Peralta. He posted an even 3.00 ERA in five games and only faltered after pitching longer than expected in Game 3.

What’s more interesting is that it was Peralta also closed the last two games of the series. Granted, much of this was from Cleveland having two lefties due up in the ninth inning, but even so. Clay Holmes was an All-Star closer in the regular season, led the Yankees with 20 saves, and has been a setup man in his last two appearances.

Cut to Wandy Peralta, who just tossed 4.2 innings in five days. Don’t be shocked if he gets the ninth more in the ALCS.

The Cleveland Guardians never had a chance. The Guardians are a scrappy and talented team who just took the 99-win Yankees to the limit. In hindsight, they were still clear underdogs even after being up 2-1 in the series. As Lindsey Adler of The Athletic noted, Cleveland’s batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was .338 on what Statcast considers weak contact. The Yankees’, by comparison, was only .176.

We don’t need to revisit how many hits the Guardians got on soft contact in this series. Jose Ramirez, their best hitter, didn’t have a single home run in five games. Only Steven Kwan, Josh Naylor, and Amed Rosario homered. New York managed to win a five game series and hit sub-.200, all because of the power game.

These New York Yankees are gamers. The Yankees had their backs against the wall and had trouble finding their base hits in the ALCS. The Guardians had 44 hits to New York’s 28, and the Yankees still won out. It didn’t matter that they were down 2-1 on the road. Gerrit Cole did his job and Nestor Cortes reminded everyone else who this team is.

Forget fatigue. These Yankees are primed and ready for Houston.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.