October baseball is finally here and as usual, the New York Yankees find themselves in the postseason. They will travel to Fenway Park for a Tuesday night showdown with the Boston Red Sox. It doesn’t get much better than two of the biggest rivals in all of sports going head to head in a winner take all format. The winning team in the AL Wild Card game will advance to take on the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Divisional Series while the loser will be done for the season. Excitement is at an all-time high for the AL Wild Card game.
Yankees Keys to Victory in the AL Wild Card Game
Baseball is a sport that is played by series rather than by individual games. The only real exception is the Wild Card game. It’s win or go home, making it the highest stakes game of the baseball season. No added motivation is needed for such a situation, but the fact that it’s Yankees against Red Sox makes it that much more intense. One game means literally anything can happen, but the Yankees have an edge over the Red Sox in this match-up.
It’s no secret that Gerrit Cole has been a bit shaky down the stretch for the Yankees postseason push. He has not been the usual dominant version of himself. Still, he has been an excellent big-game pitcher throughout his career. Over his last three postseasons, he has pitched to a stellar 2.38 ERA with 94 strikeouts across 68 innings. The Yankees should feel confident having an ace like Gerrit Cole for the AL Wild Card game. After all, this exact situation is the reason they signed him to a mega-contract in the first place.
Cole does have a disappointing ERA of over six at Fenway Park this season, but the stakes are obviously much higher in this game than any of the others. He will look to the rise to the occasion, as he has done many times in the past. He will be facing off against Nathan Eovaldi, who was named the starter by the Red Sox. He was solid at Fenway this season, pitching to a 3.47 ERA at home compared to 4.21 on the road. Most would agree that having Gerrit Cole is an advantage over Nathan Eovaldi in the starting pitching match-up.
While the Red Sox did win the season series over the Yankees at Fenway Park, the most recent three-game set should give the visitors confidence. In a crucial series in the last weekend of September, when both teams were battling to earn a postseason birth, the Yankees swept the Red Sox in Boston. The Yankees scored 19 runs across those three games. Interestingly, seven of those runs came against Eovaldi, including a home run by Giancarlo Stanton.
Stanton has been great for the Yankees in the second half of the season. Since the beginning of August, he has accumulated 19 home runs and 51 RBI. Additionally, he was red hot this season at Fenway Park. He slashed .351/.455/.649 with three home runs and 11 RBI in Boston. All of the homers and ten of the RBI came in that final series in late September. He should be looking forward to playing in a park where he has had success and against a pitcher that he recently homered off of.
The bat of Giancarlo Stanton has the potential to make a huge difference in this game. The Red Sox will need to be cautious with the slugger, given his recent triumphs. In the postseason last year, Stanton carried the Yankees offense and this particular match-up for the AL Wild Card game this year favors him. He is a major key to the Yankees’ chances of winning this game, along with the performance of Gerrit Cole. If these two stars play to their potential, the Yankees are going to win the AL Wild Card game.
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