Yankees visit Athletics in wild affair
OAKLAND, Calif. — The New York Yankees look to take a giant step toward hosting the American League wild-card game when they go for a second straight win against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night.
After the A’s (83-57) gained a game in the wild-card race with a 6-3 victory in the series opener Monday, the Yankees (87-52) rode the strong pitching of J.A. Happ and their Aroldis Chapman-less bullpen to a 5-1 victory Tuesday night that restored their 4 1/2-game lead.
A Yankees win Wednesday would not only allow them to win the series 2-1 and the season series 4-2, but also put them 5 1/2 games up with 22 to play.
New York will send right-hander Luis Severino (17-6, 3.32 ERA) after the important win, while Oakland counters with righty Mike Fiers (10-6, 3.38) in what could be a preview of the pitching matchup should the clubs meet again in the single-elimination October affair.
Severino dominated the A’s in an earlier matchup this season in New York, allowing one run and five hits in six innings. He struck out the heart of the Oakland order — Jed Lowrie, Khris Davis, Matt Olson and Matt Chapman — in succession bridging the first and second innings.
The 24-year-old has pitched once previously in Oakland and did not get a decision, giving up four runs in six innings in a 7-6 loss in June 2017.
All told, he’s 1-0 with a 3.50 ERA in three career starts against the A’s.
The A’s managed two hits off Happ on Tuesday, one being Stephen Piscotty’s 22nd home run of the season.
Piscotty will take the field for the series finale riding a seven-game hitting streak, with four home runs and 11 RBIs over that stretch.
He’s never faced Severino in his career.
Fiers, meanwhile, will be looking to keep the A’s unbeaten in his starts since being acquired from Detroit last month. He’s 3-0, with Oakland having gone 5-0 with the new staff ace on the mound.
The 33-year-old split a pair of decisions against the Yankees earlier this season while with the Tigers, allowing a total of seven earned runs in 11 1/3 innings. Aaron Hicks has homered twice off him this season and Giancarlo Stanton once.
Fiers has started five times against the Yankees in his career, going 1-1 with a 5.54 ERA.
The Yankees feel so good about their situation, much of their attention was focused on Tuesday’s pregame festivities.
Aaron Judge, who suffered a broken right wrist July 26, put on a loud show in the underground batting cages in Oakland for the second straight day.
“I really didn’t feel too much of anything,” Judge said of the pain. “It’s still broken, so there is some soreness that comes with that. But for the most part, I’m feeling great.”
The Yankees hope to get Judge back by mid-month. Well before that, they expect shortstop Didi Gregorius to return from his bruised left heel.
He took grounders and ran the bases Tuesday, with his sights set on a return Friday night in Seattle.