BOSTON – The AL wild-card game will be in the Bronx, where the New York Yankees bats have always felt at home.
The Yankees cleared the Fenway fences four times on Friday night to tie the major league single-season home run record, clinching home-field advantage for the upcoming one-game playoff against Oakland with a 11-6 victory over the rival Boston Red Sox.
The win in the opener of the three-game series settled the AL’s last remaining postseason question with two games to go. The Yankees will host the Athletics on Wednesday for the right to play Boston in the divisional round of the playoffs.
“That’s an exhale right there, for the moment,” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “Now we can start working on getting ready as best as we can for that Wednesday game. It’s nice to finish that off.”
The Red Sox, who clinched the best record in baseball with a franchise-record 107 wins, were hoping to make things difficult for their archrivals — and the A’s, too — by forcing the winner of the wild-card game to fly cross-country next week. The ALDS begins in Boston on Friday.
Instead, the Yankees will sleep in their own beds, and play in the park where they were 53-28 while hitting 144 home runs.
“It’s not the end-all, be-all by any means,” Boone said. “But when push comes to shove you want to be at home.”
Reigning Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge hit his first homer since coming off the disabled list Sept. 14, and Gary Sanchez, Aaron Hicks and Luke Voit also homered to give the Yankees 264 home runs for the season. That matches the mark set by the 1997 Seattle Mariners.
J.A. Happ (17-6) pitched three perfect innings and allowed just one hit through five.
In all, he allowed four runs on four hits and two walks, striking out seven in six innings. He would be on regular rest for the wild-card game.
“I’d love to get the nod,” he said. “But I think we’re going to feel good with whoever is out there.”
Rockies 5, Nationals 2
In Denver, the NL West-leading Rockies locked up a playoff berth for the second straight season by beating Washington for their eighth win in a row behind a resilient start from Kyle Freeland.
David Dahl homered for the fifth consecutive game and Ian Desmond hit a two-run homer against his former team to help Colorado clinch at least a wild card with two games remaining. The Rockies have a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers as they try to wrap up the franchise’s first division crown.
“It’s a playoff atmosphere,” Arenado said. “The good thing about us is we’ve been in a playoff atmosphere before. We know how to handle it.”
Wade Davis struck out Bryce Harper looking to end the game and earn his 43rd save. The sellout crowd at Coors Field roared and fireworks went off.
The Rockies are headed to the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time in team history. This is their fifth playoff trip since the franchise began in 1993 — last year, they lost to Arizona in the NL wild-card game.
“It’s just incredible,” said Freeland, who grew up in Denver and was a big Rockies fan. “I dreamt of this as a little kid and never thought I’d be in this position to do it. But the work is not done.”
Dodgers 3, Giants 1
In San Francisco, Justin Turner smacked a go-ahead, two-run homer in the fifth inning and Los Angeles moved to the brink of securing baseball’s final playoff berth.
Reliever Kenta Maeda threw a scoreless inning for the Dodgers in the win.
Angels 8, Athletics 5
In Anaheim, Mike Trout hit a two-run homer, Shohei Ohtani went 3-for-3 and the Angels claimed the series opener.
Ohtani also drove in a pair of runs for Los Angeles.
Taylor Ward also had a two-run shot for the Angels (79-81). If they can sweep the weekend series, they would finish with a .500 record in what is widely expected to be Mike Scioscia’s final season as manager after 19 years.
In Other Games
Cubs 8, Cardinals 4
Brewers 6, Tigers 5
Twins 2, White Sox 1 (1st)
Twins 12, White Sox 4 (2nd)
Indians 14, Royals 6
Astros 2, Orioles 1
Braves 10, Phillies 2
Marlins 8, Mets 1
Pirates 8, Reds 4
Blue Jays 7, Rays 6
Mariners 12, Rangers 6
Padres 3, Diamondbacks 2 (15)