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 Boston Red Sox on Friday at Fenway Park. 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.
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 and his fifth postseason homer stood up thanks to the ability of New York’s pitching to escape trouble at times.
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.
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 off Rodney. Two batters later, 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 entire 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 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.
Instead of using a traditional starting pitcher, the A’s employed the opener strategy by utilizing Hendriks. Hendriks allowed two runs in the first inning while throwing 25 pitches.
—Field Level Media