The AL wild card game is coming back to the Bronx.
The Yankees clinched the top spot after beating the Red Sox, 11-6, Friday night and will host the Oakland Athletics next Wednesday for the do-or-die game.
J.A. Happ rewarded the Bombers’ faith in him, going five scoreless innings before allowing a grand slam to Steve Pearce, who has become the newest Yankee killer this season. Happ struck out seven and continued his success against Boston, one of the reasons the Yankees went out and got the former Blue Jays lefty at the trade deadline.
Happ is also now likely lined up to pitch that wild card game at the Stadium next week, although manager Aaron Boone has not named a starter. Luis Severino is not the same pitcher as he was in the first half of the season, and Masahiro Tanka did not do himself any favors by giving up four runs on six hits against the Rays on Wednesday.
Should Happ start the wild card game, though, he would only be available for one start in a potential ALDS series against the Red Sox.
Things seem to be clicking at the right time for the Bombers, who broke out the bats Friday at Fenway Park, led by Aaron Hicks, who showed no signs of the tight hamstring that gave the Yankees a scare early this week. He went 2-for-5 with three RBI and a three-run home run, part of a six-run fourth inning.
Aaron Judge hit his first home run since returning from the disabled list with the fractured wrist, and Luke Voit also homered.
Though he was dropped to eighth in the lineup, Gary Sanchez went deep for the second time in his past three games and appears to be a lock to start behind the plate in the wild card game, despite his season-long struggles. Should he be batting that low against the Athletics, it would make the Yankees’ lineup particularly dangerous from top to bottom.
Hosting the wild card game will be a bit of déjà vu for the Yankees, who played the Twins in the Bronx last season, and they can only hope to experience similar results. After Luis Severino was shelled early in that game, Didi Gregorius’ bat led the Yankees to a come-from-behind victory, and then the Bombers rode that momentum all the way to the ALCS.