On Wednesday, 49,620 fans piled into Yankee Stadium to watch the ever-exciting Wild Card Game. Yankees fans dominated the attendance with sky-high expectations. With just one opportunity to move forward in the postseason, the Yankees had a lot to prove.
And the Bombers delivered.
Luis Severino started the game and gave the Yankees exactly what they asked for. His line: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 7 K. Despite some shaky points and the walks, Sevy’s scoreless frames gave the Yankees some much-needed depth.
The offense quickly got the fun started when Andrew McCutchen led off with a walk. Then Aaron Judge clobbered a two-run shot for an early lead. Afterwards, the bats stayed quiet until the Yanks rallied in the sixth. Judge collected his second hit of the night with a double to lead off the inning. Then, Aaron Hicks brought him home with another double. After a Giancarlo Stanton walk, Luke Voit just missed a home run, instead hitting a two-run triple after a 8-pitch at-bat. Finally, Didi Gregorius’ sac fly scored Voit to put the Yankees up 6-0.
The bullpen was one of the high points of the game. Dellin Betances came on to relieve Sevy with two runners on and retired all six batters faced, tallying 3 K’s. Despite issues with pitching two innings during the regular season, Betances excelled in this game; he was completely sharp and in control. David Robertson took over in the seventh, with a strong, scoreless outing. Zach Britton pitched in the eighth and committed the bullpen’s only blemish of the night. After walking Jed Lowrie, Britton allowed a two-run homer to Khris Davis. Though the Yankees gave up the shut out, they had a relatively comfortable 6-2 lead after the top of the eighth.
Stanton extended that lead by blasting a 443-foot solo shot to left field, and the Yankees headed to the ninth with a 7-2 lead. Aroldis Chapman came on to close it out. Two K’s and three outs later, the Yankees officially beat the A’s by a final score of 7-2. Betances recorded the win.
Luke Voit shared his excitement in a post-game champagne shower in the clubhouse, Sports Illustrated’s Jack Dickey reports:
“I’m just a Missouri boy, I never thought I’d be playing for the Yankees. And now I’m playing on center stage of the world, having the time of my life.”
The Yankees have officially advanced to the ALDS. They start the five-game series against the Red Sox in enemy territory. It all begins at Fenway Park, where the Yankees will face the Sox on Friday and Saturday, before returning back to the Bronx for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Tuesday respectively. If needed, the teams will return to Boston for the final game of the series on Thursday. The winner of the division series will move on to the ALCS to face either the Houston Astros or the Cleveland Indians.
Though the Yankees have a greater challenge ahead in facing the Red Sox, the Wild Card gave the team a confidence boost for the upcoming series. They still have a long way to go, but if the offense stays as hot as it currently is and the pitching continues dominating, the Yankees are in great shape for a deep postseason run.