Aaron Judge’s bid for history was just short, as his ball through the center late in the ninth was unsuccessful.
But the Yankees still won their fourth straight and clinched a playoff berth in spectacular fashion, with Josh Donaldson delivering an RBI winning single on the left to score pinch runner Marwin Gonzalez in a 5-4, 10 innings win over the Red Sox. Thursday.
The judge didn’t homer in the win, walking three times, kicking and batting the ball down the warning lane, but he made his presence felt on the court.
With the game tied, Tommy Pham led the start of the ninth with a shot from the wall on the 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.
After Holmes threw a perfect 10th, Gonzalez ran for auto runner Anthony Rizzo and Gleyber Torres was intentionally walked before Donaldson hit one through the left side of the infield.
The Yankees got six scoreless innings from Jameson Taillon, but Clarke Schmidt gave up the lead with his second straight clunker. He allowed four runs in a disastrous sixth inning, capped by a three-run homer from Reese McGuire.
After Judge hit three home runs in two games on Sunday and Tuesday, he was unable to draw one on Wednesday against the Pirates, then got just a handful of pitches in the strike zone during the Thursday’s first game of the series.
On a chilly night with a loud, tense crowd that resembled October, the Yankees took on arch-nemesis Michael Wacha with the judge 0 for 14 with nine strikeouts against the right-hander.
Wacha walked Judge on four pitches to lead the bottom of the first. Wacha then hit Rizzo with the first pitch of the next at bat and Torres flew to the warning track at left center to bring Judge up to third.
With runners in the corners, Donaldson went into a late-inning double play.
Judge again walked third, this time with an out on a full count, but the inning again ended with a double play.
After the bottom of the fourth ended with the Yankees in their third double play of the game, they threatened in the fifth against Wacha.
Oswaldo Cabrera walked, Harrison Bader hit a single downfield and Kiner-Falefa picked the midfielder to charge the bases with no one on.
Kyle Higashioka hit in the first inning of the game with a sacrifice fly, bringing Judge with runners to first and second.
The judge knocked, but Rizzo walked to load the bases again for Torres – who felt for it to be a one-point game.
Donaldson started the sixth with a single and Stanton followed with a two-run shot to right center to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead.
It was Stanton’s 28th of the season and second in three games.
Schmidt replaced Taillon to start the seventh and immediately homered left-hander Triston Casas, a single to Kike Hernandez and a walk to catcher Yu Chang.
Pinch hitter Reese McGuire then homered to right center on an 0-2 pitch to put the Yankees in a 4-3 hole.
Higashioka led the bottom of the set against John Schreiber with a double wide spread to right center, which led to the judge being walked on – not intentionally.
But Rizzo went on another double play. Pinch runner Oswald Peraza came third on the play and Torres walked.
Donaldson withdrew to end the threat.
Aroldis Chapman and Lou Trivino charged the bases in the eighth, but Trivino escaped without giving up a run.
Stanton hit a field single to start the end of the inning and pinch runner Tim Locastro stole second and moved to third as Oswaldo Cabrera retired. Bader’s sacrificial fly tied the game.