Aaron Judge nearly sent the Yankees into the postseason on his own, with his ninth inning shot in the middle for a brief moment that looked like he would end up in Monument Park to clinch a place in the playoffs.
This time, however, Judge went under the ball and arrived shortly.
But while they wait 61, the Yankees cemented their postseason spot on Thursday with Josh Donaldson’s single winning RBI in the bottom tenth for a 5-4 win over the Red Sox.
“This is a great achievement,” said Judge of returning to the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. “But I think if you ask anyone in this room, the job isn’t done. We want to win the division and prepare for the postseason. This is step number one ”.
Before that happens, Judge will almost certainly have equaled – and shot – Roger Maris’ record of 61 homers in the American league and franchise.
Tonight though, Judge walked three times and hit before pulling one out at the bottom of the ninth against Matt Barnes, bringing the crowd of 43,123 back to their feet.
“I just lost it,” the judge said.
He saved his difference for the field.
With the match tied at the top of the ninth, Tommy Pham opened with a ball from the right wall against Clay Holmes.
The judge played the rebound well and made a perfect shot on Isiah Kiner-Falefa to get Pham into second place for the first outing and the Red Sox didn’t score.
“It’s amazing how well he performs that play, like he’s not in a hurry,” said Aaron Boone. “You can tell he’s done it a million times.”
Boston manager Alex Cora simply said of the show: “This is what MVPs do.”
After Holmes threw a perfect 10th, Marwin Gonzalez threw a pinch for auto runner Anthony Rizzo.
Gleyber Torres was intentionally stepped on before Donaldson struck one across the left side of the infield to score Gonzalez and kick off a mild enough celebration by post-season standards.
“You never want to take it for granted,” Boone said. “We are in The Dance, so we have a chance. We seek the crown of division “.
Jameson Taillon, who pitched six goalless innings, noted how the Yankees had to wait until the last day of the season to enter the playoffs a year ago, and that too led to the walk-off victory.
And this win, just like their season, saw some drama as Clarke Schmidt took over from Taillon and gave up four points in the seventh, crowned by a three-point homer from Reese McGuire.
Giancarlo Stanton drove down to eighth with an inside shot and pinch-runner Tim Locastro stole second and moved to third on a ground ball before Harrison Bader’s sacrificial flight equalized the match at 4 -4.
The judge helped keep the game tied at the top of the ninth with his throw on a night where he just got a handful of pitches to hit.
He has played two consecutive games without a homer and has three more games to play in the Bronx before the Yankees head to Toronto.
Until then, the Judge banter show will continue, with the entire crowd pausing to watch him before he even gets to the plate.
The judge entered the game 0 of 14 with nine strikeouts against right-footed Michael Wacha, who accompanied him on four shots in the first.
Everything to know about Aaron Judge and his hunt for the home run record:
Wacha accompanied him again in the third, this time with a full count before Wacha hit him in the fifth.
Facing John Schreiber in seventh place with pinch-runner Oswald Peraza in second after Kyle Higashioka’s brace, Judge walked again before the ninth inning battle against Barnes.
Taillon said it’s not that different from what they’ve seen the rest of the season.
“There has been hype around him all year,” Taillon said. “We know that at some point it will happen.”