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Dellin Betances waited a long time for this Yankees playoff moment — when it came, he delivered

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 10/4/2018

There were two runners on after back-to-back singles to lead-off the fifth and the Yankees were in their second uncomfortable spot of the night. The first came an inning early as Luis Severino was able to wiggle out of a bases-loaded jam. But now he was 87 pitches deep, and as promised in this AL Wild-Card game, Aaron Boone turned to his bullpen early, handing the game over to Dellin Betances.

Just four days earlier, Betances had allowed two hits and walked two in just one inning of work in Boston, the culmination of a rocky last two months for the righty reliever that saw him allow eight earned runs in 11 appearances.

His ERA in August? 3.38.

September? 3.27.

Both months were a long way from his stellar summer where he didn’t allow a run in all of June (12 innings), and and sparking July where he allowed just one run (11 innings).

And the 2017 postseason? Then-manager Joe Girardi lost faith in Betances, using him only twice in seven games in the ALCS vs. Houston as he struggled to find the strike zone.

So now Wednesday night, in this win-or-go-home game and the Yankees clinging to a slim 2-0 and Oakland’s 2-3-4 batters waiting, Betances was brought in.

"Last year I was a cheerleader for Chad Green and David Robertson,” said Betances. “This year, Boone came to me before the game and told me to be ready in a similar situation. Right there, he gave me a confidence booster. It made me feel good. When I got in there I was just trying to execute my pitches.”

He hadn’t been brought into a game this early all season. As a matter of fact, the earliest he’d been brought in this year was the seventh. And coming in with runners on was also unfamiliar territory.

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“With the energy that was out there, I felt like I was closing the game,” said Betances.

Betances got Matt Chapman to fly to Aaron Judge in right, then three-hitter Jed Lowrie to pop up to shallow center before getting Khris Davis, the A’s 48-homer man, to whiff on a slider spinning off the outside part of the plate.

Threat over. Inning over.

“I don’t know I was pumped obviously,” said Betances. “Pitching in that atmosphere, situation, juice for me, attack the strike zone and get those guys out.”

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Betances returned for the sixth to set Oakland down in order, as the Yankee pen would hold off the A’s over the final nine outs for a 7-2 win, the Bombers advancing to the ALDS and a date with the 108-win AL East champion Red Sox. Betances was credited with the win.

Said Boone, “We wanted Dellin for that part of the order so I was willing to go to him as obviously early as we were. And for him to go and give us six big outs at that point, and then we’re able to add on. Which was nice. Yeah It rolled out pretty well.

“Dellin’s a stud.”

In all, Betances pitched two innings, didn’t allow a run, a hit or a walk, while striking out three.

And now there’s Boston waiting.

“It’s amazing,” said Betances, standing on a tarp pooled with beer. “We’re familiar with each other, it’s gonna be a tremendous series, we’re excited.

“I been waiting on this moment for a long time. I was just excited to do it in front of my hometown. Last year I missed out so I was just happy to get back out there.''


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