HOUSTON -- As far as the Astros are concerned, there's no place like home.
That was the prevailing sentiment from some players and manager A.J. Hinch who spoke to MLB.com late Wednesday after the Yankees beat the Indians, 5-2, to win the decisive Game 5 of the American League Division Series presented by Doosan and punch a ticket to Houston.
The Astros will have home-field advantage in the best-of-seven series against New York, beginning Friday. Houston will send Yankees nemesis Dallas Keuchel to the mound in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series presented by Camping World at Minute Maid Park, and Justin Verlander will start Game 2 on Saturday afternoon before the series shifts to the Bronx.
"I think it's great that we get to start at home," said All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa, who went 14-for-28 with 10 RBIs against the Yankees during the regular season. "The Indians won over 100 games and had the best record in the American League, but I don't think that means anything. It doesn't mean they're the toughest opponent. The Yanks are tough, as well, as they just proved, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the team with the best record in the AL. That's huge for them. They bring momentum into the series. It's just good to start at home."
Hinch said his team was prepared for any outcome while admitting he was glad to not have to board a flight Thursday morning to Cleveland.
"I'm really happy we have home field," Hinch said. "It's a tough challenge. Wild Card teams that win the Wild Card Game and win the Division Series have a lot of momentum. They're a good team. We only played them a few times during the year, but we'll be ready for them."
All-Star pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., whose father played for the Yankees, applauded the Yanks' resiliency for coming back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Indians.
"It showed why they're considered to be a great team," McCullers said. "I think everyone is pretty excited to be staying at home, to get home-field advantage and ultimately go up to New York for the ALCS. There's nothing like the big stage in New York."
While designated hitter Evan Gattis echoed his teammates' happiness with getting home-field advantage, he focused on the tough challenge presented by the Yankees.
"They beat a really good Cleveland team," Gattis said. "It was kind of like pick your poison. Every team is good, and you're going to have to play well to win. It just works out better that we stay home and don't have to get on an airplane tomorrow [morning] at 10 o'clock."
The Astros went 5-2 against the Yankees this year, winning three of four games at Yankee Stadium in May -- including a split of a Mother's Day doubleheader -- and taking two of three from New York at Minute Maid Park from June 31-July 2. Hinch said the regular-season meetings don't mean too much now, especially considering the Astros have added Verlander and the Yanks have added key pieces in relievers Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson, starter Sonny Gray and third baseman Todd Frazier.
"Postseason is about matchups, and you see bullpens being used differently, different starting lineups and different roles," Hinch said. "It becomes very laser focused on getting the most advantages you can during the series. Obviously, we had two series against them, but we're both different teams at different times of the year. [There's] some familiarity, but for the most part, it's postseason baseball, so there's a lot of unpredictable situations."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.