Yankees to host AL wild-card game, tie MLB home run record with 264

BOSTON -- Yankee Stadium will host at least one more baseball game this year.

Thanks to an 11-6 rout of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Friday night, the New York Yankees solidified home-field advantage in Wednesday's American League wild-card game against the Oakland Athletics.

Whichever team wins that game will advance to the AL Division Series, where it will face the Red Sox beginning Oct. 5 at Fenway.

Right fielder Aaron Judge believes Yankees fans make having home-field advantage matter.

"There's nothing like it. I don't know if I can really describe how they do it," Judge said. "They've got some kind of magic, man, coming to the jungle. It's just a crazy atmosphere. It's what you play for."

Judge and his teammates locked themselves into hosting the wild-card game in powerful fashion Friday night, blasting four home runs for the second straight game. The final homer of the night proved the most special, as it gave the Yankees 264 on the year. That pulled them into a tie with the 1997 Seattle Mariners for the most long balls in a season in major league history.

With two games left, they have time to set the record.

"I say: 'Why not?'" center fielder Aaron Hicks said.

Judge's blast in the eighth inning, a towering shot that bounced off the top of the far right corner of the Green Monster before ricocheting back to the field, tied the record. It came after Gary Sanchez, Hicks and Luke Voit all went deep earlier in the game.

Judge's homer was his first since July 21. He spent seven weeks on the disabled list with a wrist injury before returning Sept. 14.

"It's just another hit," Judge said, smiling.

The home runs backed up another strong start from left-hander J.A. Happ, who is 7-0 in 11 starts since being traded from the Toronto Blue Jays to the Yankees on July 26. Although Happ gave up a grand slam, he had an otherwise clean outing, allowing only three other hits.

Happ's success since joining the Yankees makes him a candidate to start the wild-card game. Although the team is just beginning to ramp up conversations about who it will trot out for the start of the contest, Happ wants his coaches and front office to know he would be pleased if he was handed the ball.

"I'd love to get the nod, I can say that," Happ said. "But we're going to feel good with whoever's out there."

Until he's told otherwise, Happ said he plans to spend the next few days preparing as if he is starting Wednesday "just because I don't want to be caught off-guard."

When it came to the rest of the Yankees' scoring Friday night, Sanchez got things going in the third, when he crushed a 446-foot shot over the Green Monster. An inning later, Hicks -- back after being sidelined the past three games with hamstring tightness -- hit a three-run homer that drifted into the visitors' bullpen. When he first made contact, Hicks appeared to be upset, thinking he hit a long flyout.

Voit's solo home run in the seventh landed in the home bullpen. His 13 homers since being traded to the Yankees on July 29 are tied for the most in baseball in that span with Milwaukee's Christian Yelich.

"In the past couple weeks, what he's been doing for us has been huge," Judge said about Voit. "We've got a lot of guys on this team with a lot of thump, and they've been doing it all year."

On Thursday, the Yankees also hit four homers in a win over the Tampa Bay Rays, matching the 2005 Texas Rangers for second in single-season homers. New York has now had 16 games with four or more home runs, a feat no other team has replicated this season. The A's were the next closest with 11 four-homer games.

Last week, the Yankees became the first team to have 12 players hit at least 10 home runs in a season. Giancarlo Stanton has a team-high 37.

"If you would've told us we're going to break that record at the beginning of the year, you would've probably thought Giancarlo's hitting 50 or 60, Judgey's hitting 50 or 60, and because of injuries and different things, that hasn't been the case," manager Aaron Boone said.

This will be the second straight season New York has hosted the AL wild-card game. Last year, the Yankees rallied from a 3-0 first-inning deficit to beat the Minnesota Twins and advance to the ALDS. They made it to Game 7 in the AL Championship Series, falling to eventual World Series champion Houston.

"In a lot of ways, we're built for our ballpark," Boone said. "Our power plays, a lot of our guys, especially our right-handed hitters, use that right field to their advantage. It's played out that we've been a very good team at home."

Host teams are 5-7 all time in wild-card games, with the Yankees having split the two they have played (2015, 2017).