Judge Provides A’s Verdict as Yankees Advance, 7-2

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It took just four pitches for New York Yankee slugger Aaron Judge to set the tone for Wednesday night’s American League Wild Card game. That was when the Yankees star blasted a two run homer over the left field wall to put his team on top as New York would roll to a 7-2 victory that enabled the team to advance to the ALDS where they will take on the Boston Red Sox beginning Saturday night.

After the A’s were retired in the top of the first-inning, Oakland starter Liam Hendriks walked Andrew McCutchen to begin the bottom of the frame. That brought Judge to the plate, who hit a laser shot over the left field wall, sending the Yankee Stadium crowd into a frenzy.

The Oakland bats were pretty much kept at bay through the first three innings by Yankee starter Luis Severino, but they would start to mount a rally in the top of fourth. With one down, Khris Davis reached on an error before Matt Olson walked. Two batters later, Ramon Laureano walked to load the bases. Severino buckled down, striking out Marcus Semien to keep New York on top by two.

In the fifth, the A’s would try to rally again. Back-to-back singles by Jonathan Lucroy and Nick Martini started the inning. That would be it for Severino.  Dellin Betances came on and shut the door, getting two fly outs before striking out Davis to end the inning.

An inning later, the New York Yankees would blow the game open. Judge led off the inning with a double and scored when Aaron Hicks doubled into center field. A wild pitch moved Hicks to third before Giancarlo Stanton walked to put runners at the corners with no one out. That brought Luke Volt to the plate. He drilled the ball to the corner in right field, easily scoring both runners as Volt raced into third with a triple. A sacrifice fly by Didi Gregorius brought him home and the Yankees suddenly had a 6-0 lead.

The Oakland bats had been kept silent through the first seven innings, but Zach Britton came on in the eighth and Oakland would finally put together a little rally. Matt Chapman led off the inning with a single to left field. Two batters later, Davis crushed the first pitch he saw over the right field wall for a two run homer. That pulled Oakland within four.

The Yankees would get one of those runs back in the bottom half of the inning. Stanton led off by taking a 1-2 pitch over the left field wall for his first postseason home run that gave New York a 7-2 lead, which would be the final.

Judge finished 2-3 with 2-runs, 2-RBI and a homer. Stanton was 1-3 with 2-runs, an RBI, and a home run. Betances (1-0) earned the victory with two innings of perfect relief.

With the victory, the New York Yankees will advance where they will take on the Boston Red Sox in a best-of-five series starting Saturday night. The Yankees have not named their starter for Game 1, but Boston will go with left-hander Chris Sale (12-4, 2.11). First pitch is scheduled for 7:32.

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