Game 98: COL vs. NYY — Hall of Fame Weekend thankfully overshadows Sunday’s loss

Sure, the focus was on New York this afternoon. Just about 190 miles north of the Bronx. And on yet another hot summer day, one setting of Yankees clearly overshadowed another. I’m not sure anyone is disappointed by that today.

In the final game of this home stand and in the weekend series against the Rockies, the Yankees struggled their way through the scorching afternoon that just didn’t pan out like the earlier games thanks to a combination of sluggish pitching and defense and offense. Basically, the Yankees didn’t play well, and they added mental anguish to the physical oppression of the humid atmosphere.

James Paxton got the start and threw 77 pitches into just the 4th inning. He gave up 5 hits, 3 walks, and 7 runs (only 4 earned runs) and still struck out 6 Colorado batters to earn the inevitable loss. Things got off to a bad start when his first batter smacked his 2nd pitch into the right field seats. But then Paxton sailed his way through 6 outs. So things were looking up. For a moment.

In the 3rd, he loaded up the bases with a walk, a bunt and fielding error, and a single. After a strikeout, a double scored 2 runs before a fielder’s choice out kept runners on the corners. A walk loaded the bases again, and a long single scored 2 more runs. After a walk and 1-out single put runners on the bases that ended up in scoring position due to slow defense, the Yankees went to the bullpen.

Chad Green’s first batter hit a ground-rule double that scored both runners. But then Green settled into that strong pattern he’s known for and carried the game into the 6th inning. Ottavino kept things scoreless through 3 outs overlapping the 6th and 7th innings.

Stephen Tarpley closed out the 7th and pitched through the 8th. But he found a bit of trouble in the 8th. He gave up a lead-off walk that moved to 3rd on a 1-out double. After another out, he loaded up the bases with an intentional walk. But a passed ball moved all the runners up and score the lead runner. Chapman’s 9th inning wasn’t a save opportunity, but he efficiently worked through it with 18 pitches.

Like I said, things were looking up earlier in the game for the Yankees. Including tying up the game early with a 1st pitch solo home run shot to lead-off the 1st by DJ LeMahieu. Then down by quite a bit, Mike Tauchman’s 2-out solo home run in the 5th doubled the Yankees’ score.

In a last-ditch effort, the Yankees got one more chance on the scoreboard in the 8th. Tauchman led-off by working a walk. Two outs later, Aaron Hicks launched a 2-run home run deep into the 2nd deck of the right field seats to again double the home team’s score. But that was all they could piece together today — runs scored on small homers.

Final score: 8-4 Rockies, Yankees win series 2-1

Next up: The Yankees hit the road for a week-long road trip. They will play a midweek series at the Twins starting Monday, and then head back to the East Coast for a 4-game weekend series against the Red Sox. They will then head home for another home stand against the Diamondbacks and Red Sox.

Meanwhile, in upstate New York, Yankees fans were in full force to celebrate their Yankee alumni and legends as they were officially inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. And 58 Hall of Famers (including Joe Torre, Reggie Jackson, and Hank Aaron) packed the stage to watch the festivities as thousands of fans basked in the sunny, clear skies to witness the festivities in Cooperstown as six very special men were honored.

Bernie Williams opened the afternoon by playing the national anthem on his guitar in his smooth signature musical style. He later came back to play “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, much to the delight of the crowd. Then, Yankees’ pitcher Mike Mussina kicked off the festivities, setting a familiar pattern of sharing stories from his childhood and playing days and honoring those special people and his family that helped him along the way.

Brandy Halladay, wife of the late pitcher Roy Halladay, spoke next in honor of her husband’s honor. Halladay split his career between the Blue Jays and Phillies and settled in the Tampa Bay area (near where both teams host Spring Training), before passing away in a tragic plane crash off the Florida coast in November 2017. His teenage sons following in his footsteps in high school sports, and his eldest Braden was recently drafted by the Blue Jays though he will continue on to Penn State first.

Mariners’ legendary power-hitter Edgar Martinez finally made it into the Hall after being selected in his 10th and final year on the ballot. Fans from his fellow Puerto Rico were thrilled to see their hometown hero honored and cheered on as he specifically thanked them in Spanish.

White Sox designated hitter Harold Baines and Cubs’ closer Lee Smith were selected by the Today’s Game Era Committee in December. Often overlooked by the original ballot rounds, Baines and Smith rightfully join the rest of their inductees on the stage and in the Hall today.

Finally, after a brief video introduction by former teammate and friend Andy Pettitte, Yankees legendary closer Mariano Rivera was inducted in the Hall of Fame, taking his turn to tell his story. He began by thanking God, his wife and sons, his parents and family, and the Yankees organization and fans. Rivera was graciously intentional as he told his story of persevering — from his try out for the Yankees, to learning English in the minors, to being sent back (along with Jeter) after his initial call up, to finding his rightful home as the Yankees’ closer. He closed out his speech with a flurry of gratitude for his family and friends in Panama, spoken in Spanish for their benefit and enjoyment.

{Media note: Further video clips can be found here for future perusal.}

Next year’s ceremonies will be July 26, 2020, and could feature names like Jeter, Soriano, Abreu, Giambi, Lee, and Beckett (in addition to repeat names like Pettitte, Bonds, Vizquel, Ramirez, and Sheffield). It could be an even larger class than the fairly “large class” of 6 for each of the last 2 years.

Go Yankees!

Game 97: COL vs. NYY — The Yankees are hot, and so are their bats

I should begin by saying that while, yes, it is summer, it’s really ridiculously, unseasonably hot outside for most of the United States right now. At 1 pm in the Bronx (first pitch), it was 94° F and sunny and only got hotter as the game went on, as temperature generally peak around 3 pm.

To be fair to the visiting team, they’ve been dealing with higher than average temperatures in their home town too. Basically, this oppressive heat continues, so take care of yourselves, America. We’re in this together, sweating and hydrating and pushing through until this “heat dome” breaks and we can breathe again.

And yet, there’s still lives to be lived and baseball to be played. Masahiro Tanaka got the start in today’s game, the middle game of this weekend series against the Rockies, and pretty much sailed his way through his first 5 innings. He threw just 47 efficient pitches, giving up just 2 hits. But his 6th inning was a doozy. With 1 out, a single that scored on a RBI double. After giving up a walk, a 3-run home run planted the Rockies firmly on the board. Then a double scored on a long single. Before some good defense and a strikeout got Tanaka out of the inning.

Now, that would be really bad except for the fact that the Rockies are really not good. And that allowed the Yankees to grab an early large lead to cushion anything that might trip up Tanaka’s otherwise quality start. In the 1st, LeMahieu led-off with a single and scored on Aaron Judge’s double to kick off the Yankees’ offense today.

Didi Gregorius led-off the big 2nd inning with a double and promptly scored on Gleyber Torres’ single and a throwing error that finished with Torres sliding into 3rd base. (That messy Rockies’ defense.) Austin Romine’s single easily scored Torres, and after a strikeout (the first out of the inning), Romine stole 2nd. Then, walks to LeMahieu and Judge loaded the bases. Aaron Hicks singled and scored Romine, and Edwin Encarnacion’s double scored LeMahieu and Judge.

That was the end of the Rockies’ starter, but their bullpen didn’t have much luck against the Yankees either. In the 4th, Hicks walked, and after an out, Luke Voit was hit by an errant pitch right on the jaw. Understandably, he was a bit shaken up as he took 1st base, but he stayed in for rest of that inning. Didi Gregorius’ single scored Hicks, and Torres’ long single scored both Voit and Gregorius.

After the Rockies chipped away at the Yankees’ lead, the Yankees found another opportunity to widen that gap again. In the 7th, Gardner led-off with a walk, moved to 3rd on LeMahieu’s single, and then scored on Mike Tauchman’s fielder’s choice. After a strikeout and pitching change, Encarnacion singled home Tauchman to cap off the Yankees’ big afternoon.

The Yankees were able to close out the game with their strong bullpen once again. Kahnle breezed through a scoreless 7th, and Hale was solid once again through the final 2 innings to hand the Yankees another win.

Final score: 11-5 Yankees

It’s worth noting that the Yankees scored a whopping 11 runs, and not a single one of those runs were due to home runs. An odd statistic for the so-called “Bronx Bombers”. But it doesn’t really matter how you score runs, just that you score more than your opponent.

Luke Voit did come out of the game after scoring on Torres’ single in the 4th. He was definitely hurting, and getting hit in the face isn’t the best place to absorb a 91 mph fastball. (Honestly, it’s never fun or not going to hurt when you get hit by a speeding baseball, but there are fleshier areas that can absorb the impact better and simply bruise. The posterior is a prime example.) Voit was sent for tests and x-rays, but everything came up clean. He’s being observed as determined by concussion protocol due to the impact on his head. Stay safe out there, guys!

Also, before today’s game, the Yankees welcomed astronaut (and Yankees’ fan) Mike Massimino to honor the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. On the mound that day, exactly when they touched down in Tranquility Base, was Yankees pitcher Jack Aker. So today, Massimino threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Aker to symbolically bridge the gap between space and baseball, reminding us that together we can encompass the galaxy with our dreams.

Go Yankees!

Game 96: COL vs. NYY — A parrot’s Grand Slam

Apparently, it didn’t surprise former teammates that Yankee players like Ottavino and LeMahieu found a home in New York. While there was a bidding war for what was considered top players who eventually landed with the Phillies and Padres, the Yankees were making deals for these guys.

So, just maybe the front office knows what they’re doing in all this. LeMahieu has been a force all over the infield and leading the Yankee offense, and Ottavino’s role as mid-game reliever staple is quite dependable.  And with the Yankees currently sitting atop all of MLB in the standings, perhaps it was the Yankees who got the better end of these off-season deals. And they aren’t stuck in long-term ridiculous payout contracts for players that aren’t always consistent, especially as “team players”.

Anyway, the Yankees began their weekend series against the Rockies tonight with JA Happ on the mound to start the game. Happ had a pretty good outing overall, throwing 90 pitches through 5 innings. He gave up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs and impressively struck out 8. His allowed runs came in the 2nd, with a lead-off solo home run and a 1-out single that scored on a double and fielding error.

But those would be the only runs the visitors would score all night. Adam Ottavino threw a scoreless 15-pitch 6th inning with 3 beautiful strikeouts. And Stephen Tarpley went for the long haul, throwing through the final third of the game, holding the Rockies to just 1 hit and adding 6 strikeouts to the overall total of 17 for the Yankee pitchers tonight.

The Yankee offense got off to a big start in the 3rd. With 1 out, they loaded the bases with a single to LeMahieu and walks to Judge and Sanchez. Then Edwin Encarnacion hit a monster grand slam into the left field seats to leap frog the Yankees into the lead. Now, Encarnacion is known for his home run trot because he kind of props his right arm up as he rounds the bases as if he’s holding a parrot (like a stereotypical pirate would, I guess). So, he’s known as “the parrot”, hence tonight’s blog title.

In the 4th, with 2 outs, Tauchman managed to eke out a double that was upheld after a Rockies’ challenge. He then scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single. Tauchman singled in the 6th, and then he stole 2nd and managed to get to 3rd on a messy throwing error. He scored when the Rockies’ defense were slow to respond LeMahieu’s at-bat and turned it into a fielder’s choice play but no out. Aaron Judge’s 2-run home run scored LeMahieu to wrap up the Yankees’ big Friday night.

Final score: 8-2 Yankees

After the kerfuffle in yesterday’s first game, Aaron Boone was officially disciplined for his ejection. This happens every time a player faces an ejection. Essentially, it’s like putting a kid in timeout, while the parent figures out what the actual punishment will be. Maybe for kids it’s the loss of a favorite toy, but in baseball, it’s usually a suspension from games. Though he admits his word choice, he doesn’t regret his actions in sticking up for his players. Boone was suspended one game, which he served during tonight’s game.

Go Yankees!

NLDS 3: MIL vs. COL, LAD vs. ATL — One in, one to Game 4

As much as we like to pretend to know exactly how things will turn out based on patterns we’ve seen or statistics on paper, things in this life rarely turn out to be so predictable. Yes, people themselves are predictable, but collective results are often far from it. Baseball is a great example of this. It’s a team sport that celebrates the individual accomplishment. Which means as predictable as it is, it’s just not so predictable.

Now, as the Yankees travel home to continue their now even series against the Red Sox and the Astros follow the Indians back to Cleveland hoping to sew up Game 3 tomorrow, the postseason is really just beginning in many ways. And after today, only one team has a place in the next series, but that’s all going to change over the next few days.

NLDS A: Brewers at Rockies
After a tight first game, the Brewers have come out swinging strong and not slowing down. The bottom line is that the Brewers outpitched and outplayed the Rockies once again. The Brewers pitchers only gave up 4 hits, while they hit 12 of them. In the 1st, the Brewers got an early lead when a 1 out walk moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a ground out fielder’s choice. And a 1-out solo home run in the 4th doubled that score.

But then the Rockies got sloppy in the 6th. With 1 out, the reliever gave up a single and a double to move runners in scoring position. After another strikeout, a balk moved the runners up and scored the lead one. A wild pitch then scored the other runner. Then consecutive solo home runs led off the 9th inning just for a bit more cushion to secure their Game 3 victory.

Final score: 6-0 Brewers, Brewers sweep series 3-0 and advance to the NLCS

NLDS B: Dodgers at Braves
Meanwhile, in Atlanta, the Dodgers were hoping the same momentum they had in their first 2 games and seal up their spot in the NLCS by sweeping the Braves on their own turf, much the like Brewers did to the Rockies above. But they stumbled out of the gate, as the Dodgers starter had some trouble. He loaded up the bases with a walk, a 2-out single, and an intentional walk before another walk scored their first run. Then he gave up a monster grand slam to push the Braves into a quick, early lead.

The Dodgers relievers did better at keeping the Braves from adding to their lead, and their offense finally kicked in and chipped away at the Braves’ lead. The lead-off batter worked a walk in the 3rd and ended up at 2nd on a sacrifice bunt. After a 2-out walk, the Braves pulled their starter, and the new reliever gave up a 2-run single, thanks in part to a fielding error. Then in the 5th, with 1 out and a runner on 1st with a walk, a 2-run home run put the Dodgers within 1 run. And a 2-out solo home run tied up the game.

It would be a lead-off solo home run in the 6th by the Braves that would break the tie. And the Dodgers never did have them in it to come back after that.

Final score: 6-5 Braves, Dodgers lead series 2-1

In Yankees news: it looks like Aaron Hicks‘ hamstring issue isn’t terrible or season-ending. He could even be available tomorrow off the bench. Hicks has been a valuable part of the team both defensively and offensively, and hopefully will continue to do so in this postseason. But the Yankees also have enough power on the roster to compensate for a Hicks-sized loss.

Go Yankees!

ALDS 1: CLE vs. HOU, NYY vs. BOS & NLDS 2: COL vs. MIL, ATL vs. LAD — A very busy but predictable Friday

It’s days like this, with the flurry of activity, that really amp up the drama that leads up to the final bit of this season. For those of us who follow the entire day, it’s quite overwhelming at times. But oddly, it ended up being kind of predictable.

NLDS 2a: Rockies at Brewers
The Brewers and Rockies continue to prove they are pretty evenly matched in this postseason series. But the Brewers found their opportunities and capitalized on them well. In the 4th, a 1-out double scored on a ground-rule double to get the home team on the board. But then, they were held to that lone run for most of the game.

Then in the 8th, the Brewers loaded the bases with no outs. A single scored one runner. And 2 outs later, a single scored 2 more runs. That and some really tight pitching ensured the Brewers’ shutout victory.

Final score: 4-0 Brewers, Brewers lead series 2-0

NLDS 2b: Braves at Dodgers
The Dodgers sent their ace pitcher for tonight’s game and he just breezed his way through 8 scoreless innings allowing just 2 hits. The Braves’ offense just struggled their way through the whole game.

The Dodgers’ offense, however, found an early chance to ensure their lead in the game and series. They gave up a double that moved to 3rd on a ground out. A 2-out 2-run home run gave them that early lead. And a lead-off solo home run in the 5th added that extra insurance run for them they wouldn’t need in this game. And the Braves’ bullpen actually snapped into action to keep the Dodgers to that small early lead.

Final score: 3-0 Dodgers, Dodgers lead series 2-0

ALDS 1a: Indians at Astros
The ALDS series began today and had the Indians and Astros show off their strong pitching rotations. Seriously, of all the teams in the postseason, the two teams with the strongest starting pitching are these two teams. And while they certainly showed off their stuff, there was enough early on to give both teams hope. And then the Astros pulled away and showed why they won 103 games this season.

The Astros struck first with a lead-off solo home run in the 4th. Then a walk moved to 2nd on a 2-out single and then scored on another single to double their score. Then they came back in the 5th with consecutive solo home runs to lead-off that inning to again double that score.

The Indians finally answered back in the 6th by loading up the bases and pushing out the Astros’ starter. A wild pitch by the reliever moved all the runners up and scored the Indians’ first run. Another run scored on a ground out to half the Astros’ lead.

But the home team got both of them back in the 7th with a lead-off solo home run. Then a single moved to 2nd on a grounder and scored on a single. And a 1-out double in the 8th scored on an RBI single to finish the game on a strong note for the Astros’ fans packing their hometown park.

Final score: 7-2 Astros, Astros lead series 1-0

ALDS 1b: Yankees at Red Sox
And up in Boston, the Yankees just had a series of miscues that didn’t make tonight work in the end. JA Happ, the assumed Wild Card starter, got the start and just flustered his way into the 3rd inning. A 1-out single and walk in the 1st scored as part of a 3-run home run to get the Red Sox on the board in a hurry. After giving up a double and single to put runners on the corners, the Yankees turned to Chad Green.

Green had his own issues keeping the home team’s momentum down. He gave up a single that easily scored the runner from 3rd. A fly out moved the other runner to 3rd so that he could then score on a sacrifice fly. But then Green held them off for the 4th inning. Lynn, Britton, and Robertson then finished off the final 4 innings and kept the Red Sox to those early runs.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox has a strong starting rotation, and their ace pitcher Sale started tonight’s game and held the Yankees off until the 6th inning. Judge led-off the inning with a single but then was out on Gardner’s fielder’s choice grounder. And Stanton then singled. That was the end of Sale’s night, but he was responsible for Gardner and Stanton.

Luke Voit then hit a nice single to score Gardner, and Didi Gregorius hit into a fielder’s choice grounder at 2nd that still scored Stanton. Walks to Andujar and Sanchez loaded up the bases to prove the Red Sox’s bullpen isn’t as strong as their starters. But the Yankees also started a pattern that wasn’t going to work out well for them — load up the bases and leave them stranded.

In the 7th, they loaded up the bases with singles by McCutchen and Judge and a walk to Gardner. With 1 out, Voit hit into a ground out at 2nd that still scored McCutchen. But they left runners in scoring position again. When the Red Sox needed just 3 outs in the 9th to close out their game, Aaron Judge put a slight kink in that with a lead-off solo home run to trim the Red Sox lead down to just 1 run.

But 3 strikeouts later, the game was over. It’s just going to prove this series is going to be super

Final score: 5-4 Red Sox, Red Sox lead series 1-0

Quick side note: in the Yankees-Red Sox game, Aaron Hicks came out of the game in the 4th after hitting a single and kind of lightly running to 1st base. Replaced by Gardner (who definitely impacted the game), Hicks seemed to re-injure his hamstring injury that plagued him late last month. He will go for an MRI to figure out his postseason future. If he is out for this series, like they put him on the DL, he will be ineligible for the rest of the postseason. Hopefully, that won’t happen. But the best outcome is always the healthy outcome.

Go Yankees!

NLDS 1: COL vs. MIL, ATL vs. LAD –Just a Thursday night of October baseball

With the start of the Division Series in the NL, October baseball is in full swing. So far, one series is going to reflect how tight the National League has been, especially leading up to the postseason. The other series seems to be showing the difference between a team that’s the best in the worst division and a team that had to battle for “best”. And I expect this same format in the AL starting tomorrow.

It appears the Rays were trend-setters in a way I don’t think they wanted to be. Their frequent use of the bullpen to piece together a full game is spilling over into the postseason. One team in both series used that strategy. It worked for one, barely, but not the other, drastically.

Game A: Rockies at Brewers
This is going to be one of those tight series because both teams could really pull this one off. And it’s evident how evenly matched they are in how close the game was. In the 3rd, Brewers worked a 1-out walk that scored as part of a 2-run home run to get them on the board early. And they defended their early lead for most of the game.

But the Rockies waited until they found their opportunity to strike. The Brewers just needed 3 outs to seal the win in the top of the 9th. But the Rockies were ready to pounce. A lead-off single moved to 2nd on another single. Another single scored the lead batter, and a fielding error allowed the bases to be loaded. A sacrifice fly scored the tying run before the defense finally snapped into action and got the lead runner out at home on the next play. A strikeout ended the inning.

In other words, the Brewers got sloppy, and they paid for it by sending the game into an extra inning. After they made sure the Rockies didn’t add anything in the top of the 10th with a quick 3 outs, the Brewers eyed their victory as the game stretched into 4 hours.

A lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a wild pitch. After another out, the Rockies opted to intentionally walk the next batter, and the next batter hit into a fielder’s choice (a failed double play, as usual) that left runners on the corners. The next batter then singled his way into right field which allowed that lead runner to score the walk-off run.

Final score: 3-2 Brewers, in 10 innings, Brewers lead series 1-0

Game B: Braves at Dodgers
The Braves’ bullpen approach did not help their efforts to stop the Dodgers who have been on a roll lately. The Dodgers led-off the 1st inning with a solo home run. Then they loaded up the bases but couldn’t get anyone else home. At that point. With 2 outs in the 2nd, the Braves’ pitcher hit a batter, gave up a walk, and then allowed a 3-run home run up the middle to give the Dodger a solid early lead.

Then the Braves pitchers kept them to those runs for a bit, while the Dodgers’ starter sailed his way through 7 solid innings with 8 strikeouts. The Braves weren’t doing much of anything for most of the game.

The Dodgers got another chance to add to their lead with a 2-out solo home run in the 6th. And then in the 8th, with 1 out, the Dodgers worked a walk that ended up on 3rd on a sloppy pick-off error. Another walk ended up stealing 2nd to put 2 runners in scoring position. A pinch-hit sacrifice fly added one final run (and unearned) for the Dodgers.

Again, the Dodgers just needed 3 outs to finish out the game in the top of the 9th. But with 2 outs, their pitcher gave up consecutive singles. That wasn’t going to work for the home team. A new pitcher threw 2 pitches for a ground out to end the game.

Final score: 6-0 Dodgers, Dodgers lead series 1-0

Tomorrow is a 4-game extravaganza with the ALDS also kicking off and the NLDS playing Game 2. And it’s really just beginning. First teams to 3 wins advance to their respective Championship Series.

Go Yankees!

2018 Wild Cards: COL vs. CHC & OAK vs. NYY — October baseball, a little wild

If the Wild Card games are any indication of how the 2018 postseason is going to be, it’s going to be one wild ride this October. The National League Wild Card reflected how tight the NL has been and ended up going down to the wire before the postseason began. And the American League Wild Card showed off the Yankees.

NL Wild Card: Rockies vs. Cubs (Tuesday)
This game was one of those super dramatic, tight games that makes these one-off games worth the effort. Both teams sent in their ace pitchers, Freeland and Lester, who both pitched deep into the game. Both only gave up 4 hits and a walk. But the Rockies got one run early in the game.

In the 1st, a lead-off walk moved to 3rd on a ground-rule double and then scored on a sacrifice fly. But then the Cubs held off the Rockies for the rest of the regular game. The Rockies pretty much matched them in offense and defense, which resulted in this insane, edge-of-your-seat kind of game.

But then, in the bottom of the 8th, with 2 outs, a Cubs’ batter singled, stole 2nd, and then scored on a double to finally tie up the game. And the hometown crowd went wild. And the game eventually went into extra innings. 13 of them.

In the 13th, with 2 outs (again), the Rockies’ batter singled, moved to 3rd on a single, and then scored on a single to break the tie. The small contingent of Colorado fans were suddenly excited. Their wish came true when their pitcher breezed his way through 3 strikeouts in the bottom of the 13th to send the Cubs back to their clubhouse to watch the rest of the postseason from their couches.

Final score: 2-1 Rockies, in 13 innings

AL Wild Card: Athletics vs. Yankees (Wednesday)
The next night, the AL Wild Card teams were ready for their own dramatic one-off game. And while the Yankees certainly outshone the Athletics in the end, the A’s weren’t exactly sitting on their hands. They are a good team. The Yankees are just better.

The A’s decided to piece together their bullpen to see if that could stop the Yankees. Yeah, it didn’t. Andrew McCutchen led-off the 1st with a walk and then scored when Aaron Judge hit a nice 2-run home run into the left field seats. But then the A’s pitchers did a good job of keeping the Yankees to those early runs.

Then in the 6th, Judge led-off with a double and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ double. After a new reliever came into the game, a wild pitch moved Hicks to 3rd and Stanton worked a walk. Stanton then stole 2nd putting both runners in scoring position. Then they did so on Luke Voit’s big triple, just inches shy of a 3-run homer in right field.

A sacrifice fly by Didi Gregorius then found Voit hustling home, barely touching home plate before being tagged. The A’s challenged the tag, but it was upheld. It wasn’t quite clear if he was tagged just before he touched the plate, but there was no proof he wasn’t either. So, the run stood. Not that it mattered. The Yankees kept rolling. And Giancarlo Stanton led-off the 8th inning with a monster solo home run into the corner of the left field seats.

Luis Severino was tapped for the start, which based on his second half showing, had many in Yankee Universe nervous. But they made it clear that if he fell apart like last year’s Wild Card game, there was a enough power in the bullpen to cover him. He didn’t really need it much because he was off to a stellar start, mostly breezing his way through the first 4 innings, including 7 sharp strikeouts.

Then in the 5th, he gave up 2 singles, his first allowed hits of the night, and instead of waiting to see if Severino could pull it together, they the Yankees went to the bullpen and called in Dellin Betances, who worked his way out of Severino’s trouble in the 5th and then sailed his way through the 6th. David Robertson followed this momentum with a clean 12-pitch 7th inning.

Zach Britton came in for the 8th and became the first Yankees pitcher to really struggle this game. He gave up a lead-off single. The next batter hit into what was originally called a double play, but the Athletics challenged and it was clear that the runner beat out the ball at 1st. So it ended up overturned as just 1 out. But then the next batter hit a 2-run home run to finally get the Athletics on the board. But then Britton tamped down and got himself out of the inning.

And Aroldis Chapman, postseason veteran, came out for the 9th and came out clean, even fielding the final out himself, helping seal the win for the Yankees to advance.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees

This means that the Division Series are set. Thursday, the NLDS games start. The Brewers host the Rockies, and the Dodgers host the Braves. The ALDS starts Friday — the Astros host the Indians, and the Red Sox host the Yankees. The Divsion Series games run 2 games, travel day, 2 games, travel day, 1 game. The first team to 3 wins win the series and advance to the Championship Series that begin on Friday, October 12.

Postseason Predictions:

  • Wild Card
    • Predictions: Rockies over Cubs, Yankees over Athletics
    • Results: Rockies over Cubs, Yankees over Athletics
    • Success (in batting average): 1.000
  • Division Series:
    • NLDS 1: Brewers over Rockies in 4 games
    • NLDS 2: Dodgers over Braves in 4 games
    • ALDS 1: Astros over Indians in 3 games
    • ALDS 2: Yankees over Red Sox in 5 games

This means I am hoping for an NLCS between the Brewers and Dodgers, and an ALCS between the Astros and Yankees. And with my track record, chances are at least 1 or 2 of my predictions will be wrong. I’m ready for it. But fingers crossed that it won’t be the Yankees-Red Sox one.

Go Yankees!