Somehow, this was even more than just a do-or-die game that could've shuttered a 100-win season before the team even got a chance to face off with Boston. It's because so much of their wild win can be owed to manager Aaron Boone, who looked phenomenally sharp in a series of decisions that helped New York move on to the ALDS.
We've been waiting to say that all year long.
Using the volatile second-half edition of Luis Severino surprised many, but he ended up being a major difference-maker in the game, doing things JA Happ simply doesn't have the power to. He started off by striking out the leadoff batter with three pitches before ending the inning with a strikeout of second baseman Jed Lowrie.
This decision helped New York (and the stadium's fans) get off to a fast start, which led to Aaron Judge's two-run home run.
When the A's loaded the bases in the top of fourth inning, our faith in Boone was shaken yet again. But with no one in the bullpen, Severino pounded a 100-mph fastball past Marcus Semien, ending the inning. It was truly a defining moment of the game. Sevy finally believed in himself, at least in part because Boone believed in him.
But that wasn't the only button Boone pressed that worked.
Of course, Boone's call to bring in Adeiny Hechavarria in the sixth inning also payed dividends. While many fans were worried that the loss of Miguel Andujar could've helped torpedo the offense (and Hechavarria nearly came up in a big spot in the sixth, after all), this too turned out ingenious.The natural shortstop made an absolute circus catch on a ball that could've been trouble for New York, turning an inning-opening line drive double (with a six-run lead) into a swift first out.
And let's not forget Dellin Betances. Through four seasons, Joe Girardi seemed entirely incapable of keeping Betances fresh for October, turning him into a tired mess each and every year, learning nothing. In 2018, Betances is still a fireman thanks to something in Aaron Boone's teachings, and he breezed through a two-on, no-out jam in the fifth before returning for an equally-dominant sixth. Worked to perfection. There was just something different here.
The difference between where Dellin was last year at this time to now is crazy. He was buried in the ‘17 WC game. Tonight he got perhaps the highest leverage innings.— Rich (@RAKcity27) October 4, 2018
Boone definitely impressed in the Yankees's postseason debut and he'll have to keep making smart calls like these down the stretch in order to reach the World Series.