BOSTON – It was the good kind of meaningless September game, one the Yankees were all too happy to play.
The Yankees secured home-field advantage for Wednesday’s wild-card game against the A’s with a victory over the Red Sox on Friday night, and after Saturday’s 8-5 victory over Boston at Fenway Park, they officially were ready to get to work on plans for that game.
The most significant decision, of course, is who between J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino will be the starting pitcher.
“We’ll get into that pretty heavily tonight,” Aaron Boone said late Saturday morning. “The last couple of days, [we] started to have those conversations casually, but after last night’s game, with a little more intent behind it. We’ll meet tonight and get closer to that decision.”
Still, there were accomplishments to be had Saturday. The Yankees reached the 100-victory mark for the 20th time in franchise history -- and first time since 2009 -- and set a major-league record for home runs in a season.
The Yankees had hit four on Friday night to tie the 1997 Mariners at 264, and Gleyber Torres hit the record-setter in the fourth inning Saturday with his 24th home run, a two-run shot into the Red Sox bullpen off lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez that gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead. Giancarlo Stanton, who has teed off on Red Sox pitching all year, made it 266 with a towering drive to left-center in the seventh, with his 38th homer making it 8-2. A fan retrieved the ball and hurled it back on the field, hitting Stanton on one bounce between second and third (the fan was ejected).
“We were just talking about that,” CC Sabathia said of the record. “It’s incredible. And [Aaron] Judge was out for a lot of the year. I think we would have shattered that record if he would have been around, but it’s been amazing to watch. It’s been fun to see the display every day pretty much.”
The offense seems to have kicked it into gear for October, scoring 47 runs and hitting 14 home runs in the last five games. The Yankees had 13 hits, with Stanton going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Torres and Miguel Andujar each adding two RBIs. Andujar’s two-run double in the fourth gave him 45, breaking a tie with Joe DiMaggio (1936) for the franchise rookie record for doubles. He added No. 46 in the ninth, giving Andujar 75 extra-base hits, third-most by a rookie in club history behind DiMaggio’s 88 and Judge’s 79 last season.
“Just to have my name associated with those guys, it feels good,” Andujar said. “But you don’t want to stop there. You want to keep on doing better things. I want to have a long career, so the work doesn’t stop. It keeps going.”
As far as Wednesday is concerned, Boone said it's “possible” that the club will have an announcement about the wild-card starter at some point Sunday but could not say for sure.
Some preparation for the postseason began Saturday afternoon, beginning with the Yankees scratching scheduled starter Lance Lynn and replacing him with rookie Domingo German. Lynn did pitch, coming out of the bullpen and looking plenty comfortable. The righthander allowed one run, two hits and a walk in three innings, striking out four, to even his record at 10-10.
“We really feel he can serve a lot of roles for us in the postseason, whether it’s getting a tough righty out in a certain situation, whether it’s giving us some length in the middle innings,” Boone said. “We envision the potential of a lot of situations for him.”
Severino was scratched from his scheduled start in Sunday's regular-season finale. He could come out of the bullpen Sunday as preparation for that kind of role in the wild-card game (if he doesn't start it). “That’ll be a conversation we’ll have [between] Larry [Rothschild] and I and Sevy and figure out how we want to use him or not use him tomorrow,” Boone said.
Tommy Kahnle, who is not likely to be on the postseason roster, allowed a run in the eighth that made it 8-3. Jonathan Holder, very likely to be on that roster, allowed a two-run homer by Brock Holt in the ninth that made it 8-5. Aroldis Chapman came on with one on and one out and, with the tying run at the plate, struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. for his 32nd save.
“We’re looking more and more whole all the time, whole, really, for one of the first times this year, so that’s kind of exciting,” Boone said of his club overall. “These last two days [Saturday and Sunday], we’ll balance rest with keeping guys sharp and ready and hungry and look forward to heading into the postseason.”
Top 5 Home Run Teams
1. 2018 Yankees 266
2. 1997 Mariners, 264
3. 2005 Rangers, 260
4. (tie) 2010 Blue Jays, 257
1996 Orioles, 257