Although the American League Wild Card is listed as a postseason game, it’s almost like a play-in game. A game 163.
Because if the Yankees lose the Wild Card tomorrow, they might as well have been the Orioles or Royals. Or even, perish the thought, the Mets.
No mater how many great moments they had this season, it’s all forgotten about if the Yankees lose this game tomorrow.
That’s why it’s all hands on-deck for the game tomorrow on TBS. And also, it’s a game where manager Aaron Boone will prove his worth.
And Boone knows the pressure is on. So what’s he going to do.
“Just prepare as best we can,’ he said. “We just had our advanced meeting with our scouts, coaching staff. Support staff has been poring into all the things that hopefully can give us that little bit of a competitive advantage going into tomorrow night’s game, and we’ll be prepared and try to have a game plan as best we can, and then we go out and play. Once that bell rings, all the preparation is there for the players to go out, the coaching staff, go play. And we’ll do that to the best of our ability.”
But no matter how much preparation Boone and his staff does and no matter how many analytics he looks at, there will be a point in tomorrow’s game, where he will have to make a decision, which may change the outcome of the game.
It could be pulling starter Luis Severino in the first inning or sending up a pinch hitter. Or even there’s going to be a time where he may need to challenge a play, which may burn the challenge if it goes the other way. Or he may not and cost the Yankees a safe call.
You get the gist and sure A’s manager Bob Melvin is going though the same thing, but unlike Boone, Melvin is an experience manager, where Boone is still cutting his teeth in the dugout.
Joe Girardi was fired last season, because he didn’t adhere to the “new book” and look at the analytics all the time. Boone is supposed to change everything and you can’t complain about a 100-win season as a result.
“Yeah, we’ve had a great season to this point, but that’s now behind us, and the real season starts now,” Boone said. “Our guys will be ready, and I look forward to watching them go out and do their thing tomorrow night.”
But win the game.
It’s going to be tricky as Oakland will be taking a page out of the Tampa Bay Rays playbook and making it a bullpen game. Liam Hendriks will be the “opener” and expect a different pitcher every inning.
“We’ve seen really over the last five or ten years just how big a factor the bullpen has been in a lot of teams’ run to a world championship,” Boone said. “And then I would say even over the last couple of years and certainly this year with what we’ve seen from Tampa and other clubs, it’s even gone to another level with how teams are using and how bullpens continue to evolve.
“We certainly are prepared for that kind of scenario tomorrow, and we know the A’s have a ton of really good arms over there that present a lot of challenges for us, and we’ll just be prepared as best we can to handle that and to succeed.”
And succeed means win. There’s no medals for trying tomorrow. The Yankees have to win the game or blame will be passed around.
Starting with the manager in the dugout.