Yankees clinch 2022 playoff berth with walk-off win over Red Sox

NEW YORK — Four toes separated Aaron Judge from deliciously making historical past on Thursday night time at Yankee Stadium, the slugger’s ninth-inning drive exploding off his bat and hovering towards the legends’ Monument Park lair. Perhaps, on a hotter night, the ball would have landed near Roger Maris’ retired No. 9. We’ll by no means know.

Because Judge’s fly ball ran out of steam, it was as a substitute Josh Donaldson who sealed a significant Yankees victory, offering the comfort prize for many who ached to see Judge hit his 61st homer. Donaldson’s walk-off RBI single within the tenth powered a 5-4 victory over the Red Sox, clinching the Bombers’ spot within the 2022 postseason.

“It’s not over but, however the likelihood that we get the chance to play some postseason baseball goes to be enjoyable,” Donaldson mentioned. “I believed Judgie had it with a homer, however it was good to have the ability to come by for the workforce.”

The Yankees are a playoff membership for the sixth consecutive yr — or, to place that in context, a streak that extends by every of Judge’s full seasons. They’ve reached the postseason 24 of the previous 28 years, and Aaron Boone is the primary supervisor to punch a playoff ticket in every of his first 5 seasons, in keeping with the Elias Sports Bureau.

“You by no means need to take it as a right,” Boone mentioned. “We’re within the dance, and we have an opportunity now.”

Simply clinching a postseason berth has by no means been a aim for this workforce, which has focused an American League East title as its goal for the reason that first day of spring. The Yanks’ magic quantity for the division is six over the Blue Jays, and as such, their clubhouse celebration was extra of a muted acknowledgment.

Donaldson obtained the workforce’s gold-plated, wrestling-style championship belt, indicative of that night time’s most dear contributor. The veteran closed his remarks by telling his teammates: “Welcome again to the playoffs.”

“There was a number of exhausting work over the course of the season to get up to now,” Judge mentioned. “But I believe you possibly can ask anyone on this room — the job’s not completed.”

Oh, however it may have been a magical second, destined for a Yankeeography episode and schmaltzy music borrowed from “The Natural” soundtrack. One large swing from equaling Maris’ 61-year-old American League file for residence runs in a single season, Judge walked in three of his first 4 plate appearances, listening to followers loudly jeer the pitchers who dared to not groove cookies down the center.

Judge had already supplied a reminder of why he must be the AL’s Most Valuable Player within the high of the ninth, firing a seed to second base from the right-field wall that minimize down Tommy Pham making an attempt to stretch a single right into a double.

“You take him off our workforce,” Donaldson mentioned, “and we’re most likely not sitting within the place we’re in now.”

Judge was displaying persistence on the plate as soon as extra within the backside of the ninth, working the rely to 2-2 towards Matt Barnes. The Boston right-hander tried a 95.8 mph fastball that caught an excessive amount of of the plate within the higher half of the strike zone. Judge barreled it — a cannon blast coming off his bat at 113 mph — thrilling a crowd of 43,123 who remained standing all through every of his plate appearances.

Judge dropped his bat and trotted at three-quarter pace, hoping he would possibly attain the netting over the monuments. Center fielder Kiké Hernández raced again, again, then stopped, his cleats firmly planted on the warning monitor. The ball dropped into Hernández’s glove, and a complete metropolis seemingly groaned in unison.

“Just bought beneath it somewhat bit,” Judge mentioned. “It was a reasonably windy night time. I hoped it was blowing out. Just missed it.”

Said Boone: “I believed it will’ve been fairly showy to drop it off at Monument Park on the market.”

The seeds for the Yankees’ Major League-leading sixteenth walk-off win have been planted early. Although Judge remained hitless in his profession towards Michael Wacha (0-for-15, 10 strikeouts), Kyle Higashioka lifted a fifth-inning sacrifice fly and Giancarlo Stanton crushed a two-run homer off the right-hander within the sixth.

Jameson Taillon turned in an excellent begin, scattering 4 hits and hanging out eight over six scoreless innings. Clarke Schmidt had a shaky outing, permitting a Triston Casas solo residence run and a pinch-hit three-run homer to Reese McGuire that put Boston in entrance, 4-3.

Stanton sparked an eighth-inning rally with a leadoff single. Pinch-runner Tim Locastro stole second, superior on a groundout and scored on Harrison Bader’s sacrifice fly to tie the sport at 4.

There was a lot to see; simply not what we’re all ready for.

“Whenever [Judge] comes up,” Taillon mentioned, “everybody runs outdoors to observe the at-bat. No one needs to overlook it. We know it’ll occur sooner or later.”

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