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Yankees to host AL Wild Card Game

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With a tremendous 11-6 win over the Red Sox on Friday, the Yankees clinched home field advantage for next week’s AL Wild Card game against the Athletics. They’re now just one win away from becoming the second AL East team to hit 100 wins in 2018; if they sweep (or split the remainder of the weekend’s games), it’ll mark the 20th season in franchise history during which they’ve registered at least 100 wins.

Left-hander J.A. Happ led the charge during Friday’s series opener, setting down six frames of four-run, seven-strikeout ball to earn his 17th win of the year. After receiving only a handful of runs during his last two starts with the team, he was backed by an 11-run cushion, starting with Gary Sanchez‘s solo blast off of Brian Johnson in the third inning.

Giancarlo Stanton wrapped the third inning with a dramatic RBI single, but the Yankees did most of their damage in the fourth after Gleyber Torres drove in two runs on a replay-challenged double, followed by Andrew McCutchen‘s RBI single and Aaron Hicksthree-run 398-footer off of William Cuevas. Following another two homers from Luke Voit and Aaron Judge, the latter of whom had yet to produce a single home run since mid-July, the Yankees brought their home run total to 264 on the season — not only a franchise best, but enough to tie the 1997 Mariners for the most in MLB history, too.

With two games left to play before the regular season wraps up on Sunday, the club still has some time to leave their mark in the history books. They’ll continue their push for home run no. 265 and win no. 100 on Saturday as right-hander Lance Lynn faces off against Boston righty Nathan Eovaldi.

Straight-away center field will be 385 feet at London Stadium

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Marley Rivera of ESPN has a story about some of the on-field and in-game entertainment, as well as some aspects of the field conditions, for this weekend’s London Series.

The fun stuff: a mascot race, not unlike the Sausage Race at Miller Park or the President’s race at Nationals Park. The mascots for London: Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury, Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster. I suppose that’s OK but, frankly, I’d go with Roger Bannister, Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and Guy Fawkes. Of course no one asks me these things.

There will also be a “Beat the Streak”-style race which had better use the theme to “Chariots of Fire” or else what the heck are we even doing here.

They’ve also taught ushers and various volunteers who will be on-site to sing “Take me out to the ballgame,” which is a pretty good idea given how important that is to baseball. As a cultural exchange, I think some major league team should start using “Vindaloo” by Fat Les during the seventh inning stretch here. It’s a banger. It also seems to capture England a bit more accurately than, say, “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

That’s all good fun I suppose. But here’s some stuff that actually affects the game:

The end result will have some interesting dimensions. The field will be 330 feet down each foul line, and it will have a distance of 385 feet to center field, which will feature a 16-foot wall. Cook also said it would have an expanded, “Oakland-like” foul territory, referencing the Athletics’ Oakland Coliseum expanse.

Those dimensions are unavoidable given that the square peg that is a baseball field is being shoved into the round hole that is a soccer stadium. As Murray Cook, MLB’s senior field coordinator tells Rivera, that sort of thing, while perhaps less than ideal, is at least in keeping with baseball’s strong tradition of irregular field conditions. It will, however, be one of the shortest dead center distances in baseball history.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Protective netting was also an important issue addressed when building the ballpark, with Cook stressing that his team has implemented netting that “is the largest you’ll ever see in any major league ballpark.”

[Craig makes a mental note to bookmark this for the next time MLB says it won’t mandate extended netting in the U.S. because doing so is too difficult]