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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

Start spreadin’ the news: Yankees a lock to make playoffs

Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge takes the field for

Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge takes the field for a game against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Have any plans for Tuesday, Oct. 3? The Yankees will.

Aaron Judge will, too.

On that early autumn night, the Yankees will be hosting the American League wild-card game or getting ready for their first-round playoff series as champions of the AL East.

Yes, we know the Yankees have 16 games left after Thursday night’s resounding 13-5 victory over the Orioles at Yankee Stadium — a victory in which the resurgent Judge hit a pair of three-run home runs.

Trust us: The Yankees are going to the playoffs. It’s a cinch even before the clinch. Put a fork in it. Pop the cork. Bet the ranch. Or the farm, if you own one.

The Yankees hold a sizable lead in the wild-card race. Barring an epic collapse, they are going to the postseason — and considering where they were 14 months ago, in the middle of a trade-deadline selloff, that’s nothing short of amazing.

They trail the Red Sox by three games. The Yankees won the season series, which means that if the teams tie for the division title and are in wild-card position, then the Yankees will host an AL East tiebreaker game Oct. 2. The loser would get the wild card. How delicious would that be?

So take a bow, Judge and Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino and Chase Headley and CC Sabathia and Didi Gregorius and the rest . . . all the way to Jacoby Ellsbury, who is proving to be an asset at the season’s most important hour.

Take a bow, Brian Cashman. Take a bow, Joe Girardi. Take a bow, Hal Steinbrenner.

Girardi, who doesn’t want to look too far ahead, said: “I don’t want to look too far ahead. The big thing is we keep winning games and things will take care of itself . . . To get to the postseason, we just need to continue to win games.”

And if Judge is about to return to first-half Judge status . . . wow. Anything’s possible.

“We’re going to have big outputs if he does that,” Girardi said.

Judge went deep in the fourth and sixth innings to give him 43 homers in a remarkable rookie season. Eleven of his homers and 24 of his 96 RBIs have come against the Orioles. Judge’s OPS is 1.001.

“It’s a process,” he said. “It’s a long season. You’re going to have the ups and downs.”

But how is he feeling now?

“I’m feeling all right,” Judge said with a toothy grin.

Judge’s first playoff game will be a big deal. Home run, strikeout or walk? One of those always seems to be the outcome. You can’t look away when the big guy is up.

Anything can happen in a one-game, wild-card playoff, but the Yankees will be dangerous in a short series. They have power and they have quick-draw Girardi ready to use his deep bullpen at any point.

Take Thursday night, for example. The Yankees scored six runs in the first, the final three on Todd Frazier’s home run, and we can swear we saw Girardi checking his famous binder to see if it was too early to go to the pen.

The game opened in a quiet Stadium because the public address system was out. Considering the deafening, blaring noise that usually overwhelms the senses in the Bronx, this was a welcome development.

It felt odd, however, that there was no national anthem before the game. Wouldn’t it have been nice if the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner” scrolled on the centerfield scoreboard for a voices-only Stadium sing-along? The message board was working. That would have been a hoot.

Maybe they can do that before the Yankees’ first home playoff game. Just a thought.

New York Sports