I’m a little torn about last night’s game. On one hand, the Yankees won because it was a quintessential performance from the 2018 Yankees — patient but powerful hitting, a strong bullpen, and an edge-of-your-seat, sweat-inducing performance from Luis Severino. However, the Wild Card Game also felt like the Yankees set out to prove all the critics wrong.
Severino didn’t allow a run after people spent weeks calling for J.A. Happ or Masahiro Tanaka to take the ball. Gary Sanchez looked great behind the plate, and Dellin Betances came in with runners on and absolutely shut the door. The Yankees did everything they were expected to do, and they didn’t at the same time.
The Yankees looked on their game from the very beginning. Luis Severino struggled mightily in the second half, but he had three strong starts to finish the season. He continued that streak in the Wild Card Game. Sevy made quick work of the A’s in the first inning, using a ton of fastballs to simply overpower the Oakland hitters, but that wasn’t the case the entire game.
Oakland hitters were fed a heavy diet of sliders in the second, third, and fourth innings, and they couldn’t really handle it. Granted, Severino struggled to locate the zone at times. In his four innings of work, he issued four walks, but he worked around that trouble by striking out seven and not issuing a hit until the top of the fifth inning. After weeks of hearing that the Wild Card starter should be Happ or Tanaka, Severino came in and showed that he deserved the ball last night. He came up huge when the team needed him most, and the win lies with Sevy as much as it does anyone else on the team.
Speaking of strong pitching performances, everyone needs to give it up for Betances. With the go-ahead run at the plate, the pitcher who notoriously struggles when runners are on got three outs without any trouble, and got three more in the sixth. I didn’t think there was any chance we saw Dellin come in with runners on, given his struggles with giving up steals, but he came in proved me completely wrong. Both Robertson and Chapman should be commended for their strong performances as well, but Betances coming and shutting the door like he did felt like a turning point in the game.
The pitching held the A’s in place, but the bats led the way to victory. The offense came out swinging, and the Yankees got production from the bats they needed the most. Five of the Yankees’ seven hits and six of their seven runs came from the two through five spots in the order last night.
Most importantly, the Yankees biggest power bats, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, homered. If the Yankees are going to take down the Red Sox, the Yankees are going to need to get solid production out of those two, and they most certainly started the playoffs off on the right foot.
The Yankees played their best game last night. Their power hitters hit for power. Their best fielders made plays in the field (thanks for that catch, Adeiny Hechavarria). And their best pitchers got 27 outs without surrendering a lead. It sounds simple, but it really is. Last night, the Yankees won because they played their best overall game with the season on the line.