FIRST THINGS FIRST:
The First step for the Yankees in their quest for World Series Championship #28 was to win their Wild Card game.
The First step to win the Wild Card game vs. the Oakland A’s was to jump out to an early lead.
The First Inning was crucial for starter Luis Severino who was trying to atone for last years Wild Card disaster in which he went 1/3 of an inning vs. the Twins. Severino retired the first three A’s batters in order on 10 pitches, 9 of which were near triple-digit fastballs that overmatched Oakland.
Severino after the game said : ” I think the first inning was huge for me, after all the stuff that people say on social media, all of that stuff”.
Sevy switched to more off-speed pitches after the first. He got out of a bases-loaded jam in the 4th inning by striking out Marcus Semien. Walking off the mound he let out a scream that made you think he might have thrown his last pitch of the evening, despite pitching a no-hitter through 4 innings. He did come back out to start the 5th, but after giving up back-to-back singles, his night was over, leaving with a line that read : 4.0 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 4 BB, 7 Ks. He threw 87 pitches, 36 fastballs, 37 sliders, and 14 change-ups, proving that he could dominate with a mixed arsenal, and not just be a flamethrower. It was the type of performance the Yankees desperately needed from Severino who was 14-2 at the All-Star break, but struggled mightily in the 2nd half. Pitching wins Championships and Sevy is the Yankee ace and the key to their rotation.
The bottom of the First inning was high-lighted by Aaron Judge when he launched a 116 mph-missile into the Left-field bleachers with McCutchen on 1st, for a 2 run Homer and a quick 2-0 lead, sending the sell-out crowd in the Bronx into a frenzy. The Yankees went on to win their 2nd WC game in a row with a decisive 7-2 victory over the Athletics.
Judge, who missed 7 weeks with a broken right wrist before returning in mid-September said : ” I was excited from the national anthem on”. Aaron is key to the offense, like Severino is to the pitching staff.
When Severino struggled in the 2nd-half, and Judge was on the DL, the Yankees looked and played like a mediocre team. Savvy fans know the team has weaknesses. Defense is a concern at 3B, 1B, & behind the plate. The offense lacks situational hitting, and strikes out too often. At times there is a general lack of fundamentals. Even the bullpen which has been considered the teams biggest strength has been far less than automatic. The Wild Card game was a big win, but the fact that Sevy & Judge lead the way gives the Yankees team a different feel. A feeling of dominance, and it gives Yankee fans a reason to dream.
1 down , 11 postseason wins to go.
Next up … the Boston Red Sox in a 5 game ALDS ( I like our chances)
Go NYY !!