Playoff Baseball in the Bronx
In a game that was do or die for both teams, the 100-win New York Yankees and the 97-win Oakland Athletics found themselves in Yankee stadium for the American League wildcard game, where the winner will play against the most dominant team of the 2018 season: The Boston Red Sox.
This season the New York Yankees find themselves in a situation that’s very foreign to them. They currently find themselves living in the shadow of The Boston Red Sox, a team that has eased its way to the postseason with no opposition as of yet.
Meanwhile, the Oakland Athletics went into this game as a major underdog. They began the season by having the lowest opening-day payroll in MLB history. It was expected by many sports analysts that the Oakland Athletics would spend another season in the ‘doghouse’ of the league. This miraculously didn’t occur. They became the hottest team after the All-Star break, winning multiple series over the course of a few months. They have great upcoming talent in third baseman Matt Chapman and first baseman Matt Olson, both who are considered potential gold glove candidates.
But what was most unexpected of all was the dominance of slugger Khris Davis, who is the current homerun leader of the league with 48 home runs. They also have the reliability of closer Blake Treinen who ended the season with an astonishing 0.78 ERA.
This had the makings of a true David vs Goliath type of game. On one side you have ‘the evil empire,’ which is the New York Yankees, one of the wealthiest teams in sports history. On the other side, the ‘moneyball team’ of the Oakland Athletics, who pride themselves on using sabermetrics to put together a solid team without having to worry about lack of funds.
Luis Severino was the man for the Yankees, as he began the game with a solid 2 strikes in the first inning, setting the pace for the entire ballgame. He established his 99 mph fastball, while also mixing in a few changeups and sliders that had the Athletics hitters swinging to no avail.
The Oakland Athletics on the other hand chose to entrust the game with relief pitcher Liam Hendricks. This had many Oakland fans shaking their heads in disbelief, since Liam Hendricks had no experience as a true starter in the league. The Athletics could of had more success if they would of entrusted the starting position to Mike Fiers, who they received from the Detroit Tigers before the trade deadline.
This decision ended up costing the Oakland Athletics dearly. Liam Hendricks seemed visibly shook and never truly found his rhythm. He began his outing by allowing a walk and then a monstrous home run by Aaron Judge to make the game 2-0. His terrible start had Oakland Athletics skipper Bob Melvin signaling to his bullpen to warm up Lou Trevino and remove Hendricks by the start of the 2nd inning.
Lou Trevino had success against the Yankees for a few innings, keeping their offense at bay and giving Oakland a fighting chance. But the dominance of Luis Severino gave Yankees manager Aaron Boone a great deal of confidence going into the later part of the game.
All the pitching changes done by Oakland proved to be ultimately meaningless when they could not get on the board. They ended up leaving over 6 runners in scoring position. The Bronx bombers on the other hand, had no issue turning up their offense in the later innings. The Yankees scored four runs in the bottom of the 6th inning, but nothing sealed the fate of Oakland more than the huge 443 foot home run by Giancarlo Stanton, which made its way to left field at a velocity at 117 mph.
The Oakland Athletics managed to finally get on the board and avoid a shutout during the eighth inning, when Khris Davis hit a homerun to make the score 2-6. But it was already too late; the Yankees had already done too much damage and closed the game by using their reliable closer Aroldis Chapman; striking out the side and assuring their spot in the ALDS game.
This playoff loss for the Oakland is all too familiar for office executive of the Athletics Billie Beane. His moneyball teams have always produced fabulous results during the regular season, but have always left their their fans with more to be desired during the playoffs.
This victory by the New York Yankees will guarantee great baseball in the near future, as we prepare for a baseball rivalry that’s as American as apple pie. On October 5, fans will be treated to the classic rivalry of the Yankees vs Red Soxs. The Red Sox have since won that series against the Yankees and the ALCS against the Houston Astros, and now will face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. As for the Yanks, better luck next year.