BOSTON -- Three of the eight American League Wild Card Games played since the 2012 introduction of the win-or-go-home contest have been hosted at Yankee Stadium, more than any other venue and with the home team advancing twice. The Yanks sure would like to try their luck again.
The Yankees entered play on Saturday trailing the Red Sox by one game in the AL Wild Card chase. The club that owns the top spot would earn the privilege of playing the Wild Card Game on their home turf, as the Yanks did in 2015 (lost to the Astros), 2017 (defeated the Indians) and 2018 (defeated the A's).
"Certainly, it's the highest goal that we can achieve, so that's where our sights are set," said right-hander Gerrit Cole. "Ideally, we would like to win, and that's what we're shooting for -- so that we can host the game. Regardless of if it's here [in Boston], Toronto or New York, we're going to have to play really good baseball, regardless of who's cheering us on."
Cole would be the Yankees' choice to start the Wild Card Game unless he is needed on short rest in the Oct. 3 regular-season finale against the Rays. Cole knows better than most that simply hosting that game is no guarantee; his Pirates saw their seasons end at home in 2014 and '15.
“I haven't gotten quite to the point where I'm really pondering that," Cole said. "I still have some work to do; maybe one, maybe two more starts."
Giancarlo Stanton added that while the Yankees can't help but peek at the out-of-town scoreboard, their focus is on the nine innings in front of them.
"We're definitely aware, but we if we take care of business, it doesn't matter," Stanton said. "If we get the win ourselves, then we're in the best position possible that we can control. So we secure our way in and then see what everyone else is doing."
The Yankees will make their first visit of the year to Rogers Centre next week, a journey which now involves more than the regular pre-pandemic clubhouse reminders for players to bring passports.
Some clubs visiting Toronto have opted to leave pitchers behind as a safety protocol, but manager Aaron Boone said that the Yankees are planning to bring their entire 28-man roster on the trip.
"You’ve got more boxes to check, more hoops you’ve got to jump through to make sure we’re good to go up there,” Boone said. “Obviously, everybody has to be tested ahead of time. We’re just trying to cooperate; the organization in conjunction with the league, trying to be as buttoned up as we can.”
• The Yankees have used a franchise-record 59 players this season (P: 30, C: 3, INF: 13, OF: 13). Their previous record was 58, set in 2014.
This date in Yankees history
Sept. 25, 2014: Derek Jeter played his final game at Yankee Stadium, going 2-for-5 with 3 RBIs, including a game-winning walk-off single in the ninth inning of a 6-5 win over the Orioles.