Yankees walk off Red Sox in extras to clinch playoffs

Aaron Judge almost sent the Yankees into the playoffs on his own, with his ninth-inning shot to center briefly looking like he was going to wind up at Monument Park to clinch a playoff berth.

This time, however, the judge went under the ball and it came just short.

But as 61 waits, the Yankees cemented their playoff spot on Thursday with Josh Donaldson’s winning RBI single in the bottom of the 10th for a 5-4 win over the Red Sox.

“It’s a great achievement,” Judge said of returning to the playoffs for a sixth straight 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 playoffs. This is step number one.

Before that happens, Judge will almost certainly have tied – and shot by – Roger Maris’ American League and franchise record of 61 homers.

Josh Donaldson delivers the hit in the 10th inning.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
Marwin Gonzalez scores the winning point.
Marwin Gonzalez scores the winning point.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
Josh Donaldson is mobbed by his Yankees teammates after his hit.
Josh Donaldson is mobbed by his Yankees teammates after his hit.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

That night, however, Judge walked three times and struck before coming in with a late-ninth out against Matt Barnes, bringing the crowd of 43,123 to their feet.

“I just missed it,” Judge said.

He kept his difference for the field.

With the game tied in the top of the ninth, Tommy Pham started with a wall ball right against Clay Holmes.

Judge played the rebound well and made a perfect pitch to Isiah Kiner-Falefa to bring Pham to second for the first out and the Red Sox did not score.

“It’s amazing how well he runs this game, like he’s not in a rush,” Aaron Boone said. “You could say he’s done it a million times.”

Aaron Judge, right, celebrates with Harrison Bader after throwing Tommy Pham to second base.
Aaron Judge, right, celebrates with Harrison Bader after throwing Tommy Pham to second base.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
The Yankees celebrate after their victory.
The Yankees celebrate after their victory.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Boston manager Alex Cora said of the game simply, “That’s what MVPs do.”

After Holmes threw a perfect 10th, Marwin Gonzalez raced for auto runner Anthony Rizzo.

Gleyber Torres was intentionally walked before Donaldson hit one through the left side of the infield to tag Gonzalez and spark a pretty sweet celebration by postseason standards.

“You never want to take it for granted,” Boone said. “We are in The Dance, so we have a chance. We are aiming for the division crown.

Jameson Taillon, who pitched six scoreless innings, noted the Yankees had to wait until the last day of the season to qualify for the playoffs a year ago, which also resulted in a no-call victory.

And that victory, much like their season, saw drama, as Clarke Schmidt took over from Taillon and allowed four runs in the seventh, capped by a three-run homer from Reese McGuire.

Clarke Schmidt reacts after giving up a three-run home run.
Clarke Schmidt reacts after giving up a three-run home run.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
Aaron Judge can't carry Reese McGuire's three-run homer.
Aaron Judge can’t carry Reese McGuire’s three-run homer.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Giancarlo Stanton led early in the eighth with a downfield hit and pinch runner Tim Locastro stole second and moved to third on a ground fly before Harrison Bader’s sacrificial fly tied the game at 4-4.

Judge helped keep the game tied in the top of the ninth with his pitch on a night in which he had just a handful of pitches to hit.

He’s gone two straight no-hitters and has three games left in the Bronx before the Yankees head to Toronto.

Aaron Judge walks in the first inning.
Aaron Judge walks in the first inning.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
Aaron Judge reacts after striking out in the fifth inning.
Aaron Judge reacts after striking out in the fifth inning.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Until then, Judge’s batting show will continue, with the entire crowd stopping to watch him before he even gets to home plate.

Judge entered the game 0 of 14 with nine strikeouts against right-hander Michael Wacha, who went with him on four pitches in the first.


All about Aaron Judge and his pursuit of the home run record:


Wacha walked him again in the third, this time on a full count before Wacha hit him in the fifth.

Facing John Schreiber in the seventh with pinch runner Oswald Peraza in second after Kyle Higashioka’s starting double, Judge walked again before the ninth-round battle against Barnes.

Giancarlo Stanton watches his two-run homer in the sixth inning.
Giancarlo Stanton watches his two-run homer in the sixth inning.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
Giancarlo Stanton, right, celebrates with Harrison Bader after his home run.
Giancarlo Stanton, right, celebrates with Harrison Bader after his home run.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Taillon said it wasn’t that different from what they had seen the rest of the season.

“There’s been hype around him all year,” Taillon said. “We know it will happen at some point.”

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