What a difference a year makes. Luis Severino memorably only recorded one out in last year’s Wild Card game while Dellin Betances had a limited role during the postseason, but these same two pitchers combined for six scoreless innings against the Athletics on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium as the Yankees cruised to a 7-2 victory in the AL Wild Card game.
Severino set the tone by retiring the side in order in the first inning, including a pair of strikeouts while mostly relying on his high-90s fastball. As for Oakland’s “opener” strategy, it didn’t exactly go as planned. Liam Hendriks walked leadoff hitter Andrew McCutchen in the bottom of the first before Aaron Judge slugged a two-run homer to give the Yankees the early lead. It was a no-doubter to left which traveled an estimated 427 feet with an exit velocity of 116.1 mph. Yankee Stadium was officially rocking, with Judge making quite the statement about the condition of his wrist. It looked like the A's could be in for a tough night, but Lou Trivino followed Hendriks and kept his club in the game with three scoreless frames.
Severino’s first major test came in the fourth inning, as Miguel Andujar made a throwing error with one out. Severino eventually loaded the bases with a pair of walks, but he managed to strike out Marcus Semien swinging to escape the threat. Most assumed that Yankees manager Aaron Boone would turn to the bullpen after that despite Severino not allowing a hit, but he brought him right back out there for the fifth. The young Yankees’ ace found himself in quick trouble by giving up back-to-back singles, but Dellin Betances took over from there and retired all six batters he faced, including three strikeouts.
The Yankees broke things open with four runs in the sixth, first with an RBI double from Aaron Hicks against Fernando Rodney. This forced Athletics manager Bob Melvin to turn to his excellent closer Blake Treinen, who was greeted by a two-run triple to Luke Voit. Yes, who else? It was actually just inches away from being a three-run homer to right field, but instead he settled for the first triple of his career. Voit came around to score anyway after Didi Gregorius delivered a sacrifice fly.
Treinen served up a moonshot solo homer to Giancarlo Stanton in the eighth — at 443 feet with an exit velocity of 117.4 mph — so he ended up allowing three runs on two hits and a pair of walks over two innings of work. This is after Treinen didn’t allow more than one earned run in any of his 68 appearances during the regular season.
MLB home run leader Khris Davis finally got the A’s on the board with a two-run blast against Zach Britton in the eighth, but that ended up being the team’s only offense on the night. Aroldis Chapman tossed a scoreless ninth inning to close out Oakland’s surprising season.
The Yankees will advance to take on the Red Sox in the ALDS, with Game 1 taking place Friday night in Boston. It will be the first meeting of the teams in the postseason since the 2004 ALCS. After being passed over for the Wild Card game start, J.A. Happ figures to get the ball for New York while Chris Sale is on track to start for Boston. The Astros and Indians will kick off the day on Friday with the other ALDS matchup. Both of them should be a ton of fun.
One day after the Cubs lost the National League Wild Card game to the Rockies, MLB announced that shortstop Addison Russell has accepted a 40-game suspension without pay for violating the league’s domestic violence policy. The suspension will be retroactive to September 21, which is when Russell was originally placed on administrative leave as MLB investigated a domestic abuse claim by his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy-Russell.
Allegations of abuse first circulated when a friend of Melisa left comments on an Instagram post last June. Nothing came of it at the time after Melisa declined to cooperate, but MLB never officially closed the investigation. However, Melissa wrote a lengthy blog entry last month detailing the extent of the domestic abuse she endured, both physically and mentally, over the course of their marriage. This prompted MLB to act.
Javier Baez was the primary fill-in at shortstop for the Cubs while Russell was sidelined and he’ll presumably open next year in that role. It’s very possible that we’ve already seen the last of Russell in a Cubs uniform, as he’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and could be a non-tender candidate. Team president Theo Epstein simply said “I don’t know” when asked about Russell’s future with the organization on Wednesday.
Russell turns 25 in January and disappointed with a .250/.317/.340 batting line with five homers over 130 games this season. He holds a lowly .704 OPS (87 OPS+) over his first 533 games in the majors.
Quick Hits: The Orioles are headed for a major overhaul after a 115-loss season, parting ways with manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette on Wednesday … Dansby Swanson (hand) is not expected to be on the Braves’ roster for the NLDS against the Dodgers … Brewers manager Craig Counsell plans to go with a bullpen game in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Rockies on Thursday … Jhoulys Chacin will come back to start on short rest in Game 2 on Friday … Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the qualifying offer this offseason has been set at $17.9 million, an increase from $17.4 million last offseason … Marlins president Michael Hill confirmed Wednesday that club will approach catcher J.T. Realmuto about a contract extension this winter … Rockies manager Bud Black said Antonio Senzatela will likely start Game 1 of the NLDS against the Brewers on Thursday … Braves manager Brian Snitker announced that Anibal Sanchez will start Game 2 of the NLDS against the Dodgers … The Dodgers have tabbed Walker Buehler to start Game 3 of the NLDS against the Braves … Cubs president Theo Epstein said Wednesday that Kris Bryant isn’t expected to require offseason surgery on his shoulder … According to Jon Heyman of FanCred Sports, the Reds have interviewed Joe Girardi for manager and also have Brad Ausmus and David Bell high on their list of potential candidates … Joe Maddon is expected to return as Cubs manager in 2019 … Miguel Cabrera, who underwent surgery in June for a ruptured biceps tendon, said he’d be ready to play “right now” if the Tigers were in the playoffs … Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins hasn’t ruled out Russell Martin playing regularly in 2019 despite a limited role down the stretch this season … According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the players’ union has filed a grievance on behalf of unsigned Braves’ 2018 first-round pick Carter Stewart in hopes of getting him declared as a free agent …