EditorsNote: Update 2: Adds quotes
Aaron Judge hit a two-run home run in the first inning, and Giancarlo Stanton later added his first career postseason homer as the New York Yankees advanced to the American League Division Series on Wednesday night with a 7-2, wild-card game victory over the Oakland Athletics at raucous Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees will face the Red Sox beginning Friday in Boston. It will be the first postseason meeting between the longtime rivals since the 2004 AL Championship Series, when the Red Sox became the first team to overcome a three-games-to-none deficit en route to their first World Championship since 1918.
“Obviously we’re very familiar with them,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the Red Sox. “We know how good they are. I mean, we know we have to play our best if we’re going to have a chance to beat them.”
The Yankees never trailed thanks to Judge, who hit a 2-1 fastball from Liam Hendriks (0-1) into the left field bleachers. Judge’s 427-foot blast, his fifth postseason homer, stood up thanks to the ability of New York’s pitching to escape occasional trouble.
“It’s frustrating,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “They got off to a good start with the home run, and they ended up adding on. We just didn’t do enough offensively tonight.”
Yankees starter Luis Severino allowed two hits in four-plus innings while working around four walks. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth by fanning Marcus Semien but was lifted after allowing singles to Jonathan Lucroy and Nick Martini to open the fifth.
“I think that was the plan, go four or five good innings and after that the bullpen is going to go do their job,” Severino said. “And when I went into the first inning, that was the mindset. I went there and got my job done.”
Dellin Betances (1-0) struck out major league home run leader Khris Davis on an 88 mph cutter to end the fifth and then struck out Stephen Piscotty and Ramon Laureano in a flawless sixth.
After Betances finished his outing, the Yankees added four runs in the sixth off Fernando Rodney and Blake Treinen.
Judge opened the inning with a double down the right field line and scored on a double by Aaron Hicks. After Stanton walked to end Rodney’s outing, Luke Voit capped a nine-pitch at-bat against Treinen by ripping a triple off the right field fence to make it 5-0.
Voit made it 6-0 with a nice slide on a sacrifice fly by Didi Gregorius, and the crowd began chanting “We Want Boston.”
Davis hit a two-run homer off Zach Britton with one out in the eighth. Britton walked Piscotty with two outs but ended the threat by inducing a groundout from Laureano on the next pitch. Stanton opened the bottom half of the frame with a long drive off Treinen over the left field foul pole to make it 7-2.
The A’s dropped their fourth straight winner-take-all game, ending a 97-win season with their second loss in as many tries in the wild-card game. Oakland batters struck out 13 times and finished 3-for-17 with runners on base.
“I told them all in all, it was a great season,” Melvin said of his team. “I was proud of them and hopefully this is just the start for us. So we feel like with the group that we have here together that we’re going to get better each and every year, and unfortunately it’s disappointing right now but to keep their heads up.”
Instead of using a traditional starting pitcher, the A’s employed the “opener” strategy by utilizing Hendriks. The right-hander allowed two runs in the first inning while throwing 25 pitches.
—Field Level Media