Aaron Judge almost sent the Yankees into the post-season himself, with his ninth shot in the position that briefly looked like he would end up at Monument Park to clinch the playoff berth.
This time, though, Judge got the ball and came a short while later.
But while 61 awaits, the Yankees cemented their place in the post-season Thursday with RBI-winning Josh Donaldson winning the bottom 10th for a 5-4 win over the Red Sox.
“This is a great achievement,” Judge said of returning to the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. “But I think if you ask anyone in this room, the job is not over. We want to win the degree and prepare ourselves for post-season. That is the first step.”
Before that happens, Judge will almost certainly match – and shoot – Roger Maris’ MLS record and the franchise record for 61 Homers.
On this night, however, the judge walked three times and hit before knocking out one in the bottom of the ninth against Matt Barnes, sending the 43,123 crowd back to their feet.
“I just missed that,” the judge said.
He saved making the difference on the field.
With the match tied at the top of the ninth, Tommy Pham drove a ball from the wall at the right against Clay Holmes.
Judge played the jump well and made a perfect throw to Isiah Kiner-Falefa to get Pham in second for the first time and the Red Sox didn’t score.
“It’s amazing how well he executes this play, like he’s in no hurry,” said Aaron Boone. “You could tell he did it a million times.”
“It’s what the best players do,” Boston manager Alex Cora said simply of the play.
After Holmes made the perfect 10th, Marwin Gonzalez ran for auto sprinter Anthony Rizzo.
Sir Gleyber Torres was done on purpose before Donaldson hit one through the left side of the field to score for Gonzalez and start a celebration that was fairly understated by post-season standards.
“You never want to take it for granted,” Boone said. “We are at The Dance, so we have a chance. We are after the Class Crown.”
Jameson Tellon, who has played six goalless runs, noticed how the Yankees had to wait until the last day of the season for the playoffs a year ago, and that scored a victory, too.
And that win, just like their season, saw some drama, as Clark Schmidt took charge of Taillon and gave up four runs in the seventh, capped by Homer’s three-run finish from Reese McGuire.
Giancarlo Stanton advanced eighth with a ground kick, pinch runner Tim Lucastro stole second and moved up to third on the ball before Harrison Bader’s sacrifice tied the game 4-4.
Judge helped keep the match close in the top nine with his throw on a night he had a few pitches to hit.
He’s gone two games in a row without Homer and has three more games to play in the Bronx before the Yankees head to Toronto.
Until then, the judge’s bat scene will continue, with the entire crowd stopping to watch it even before he reaches the plate.
Judge entered the match 0 to 14 with nine strokes against right-hander Michael Washa, who walked him four pitches in the first.
Everything you need to know about Aaron Judge and his chase for the home race record:
Washa walked him again in third, this time in a full count before Washa knocked him out in fifth.
Faced with John Schreiber in seventh with discus runner Oswald Perazza in second after Kyle Higashioka’s double, the judge marched again before his ninth inning fight against Barnes.
Taillon said it’s not much different from what they’ve seen the rest of the season.
“There’s been buzz around it all year long,” Taeyeon said. “We know it will happen at some point.”
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