New York – Aaron Judge turned for fastball in the ninth inning, and the 43,123 crowd at Yankee Stadium erupted, wondering, hoping he’d set a 61st inning record and earn an accessory berth with one powerful stroke.
Seconds later, groans arose in unison. Kiké Hernández made the catch a step in front of the fence, 404 feet from the board.
Judge stayed one shy of the MLS record set by New York’s Roger Maris in 1961. But the Yankees hit Goal #1: Josh Donaldson’s 10th RBI single gave them a 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox and grabbed their sixth straight berth and 24th at 28 general.
“Great achievement. There was a lot of hard work over the course of the season to get to that point,” said Judge, who also fired a runner at second base to help fend off Boston in ninth. Mission over. We have an end goal of getting out there, winning our league and preparing ourselves for the post-season. And this is step #1, step #1 of many steps to come.”
Just a few feet into his fourth home career this year, Judge has gone without a long ball for the second game in a row since hitting the 60 to match the 1927 season with Babe Ruth.
The judge has 13 matches left. He walked three times and exited once before driving off Matt Barnes just to the right of center.
“I thought it would be flashy to drop it at Monument Park there,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
The judge didn’t think it was over, not on the first night of fall when the temperature hit 68 degrees Celsius.
He said, “It’s a little under it.” “A very windy night, so I was hoping it might have been blowing by the time I was hitting, but I just missed it.”
The ball left the bat at 113 mph, the hardest hit of anyone in the game.
“I get out there and get stuck in the history of what he could be doing and start tiptoeing around the bat, maybe I’m going to hang something,” Barnes said.
Before each of Judge’s 26 courses, the usual cacophony at Yankee Court has been replaced by a more familiar silence on the church or golf course.
“You can literally hear a pin drop,” Donaldson said. “It’s kind of really scary.”
Jameson Tellon, who has made six innings without goals, said chasing the judge changed his teammates’ routine.
Taeyeon said, “There are guys inside and things watching the match, and whenever he shows up, everyone runs outside to watch the match because no one wants to miss it.”
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was on hand. Judge’s fame extended beyond sports – he was featured on the October 3 cover of The New Yorker.
After a 0-for-2 night, the judge stayed on track to get the AL Triple Crown with a hit average of 0.316 and 128 RBI. Boston’s Xander Bogarts is second in batting at 0.314 after being injury-free at five strokes.
With 4 points, Tommy Pham led 9th with a single hopper from the right field wall against Clay Holmes (7-4). The judge played a carom and off the caution track delivered a 92.3-mph hit to stop Isiah Kiner-Falefa for the mark. This was the judge’s sixth pass this season.
Then on the 10th, with disc runner Marwin Gonzalez in second as the auto sprinter, Caleb Ort (0-2) purposely walked Gleber Torres before Donaldson set a lone goal after diving third baseman Rafael Devers and to the left.
New York made four double plays but took a 3-0 lead on the sacrifice fly of Kyle Higashioka and goalkeeper Giancarlo Stanton #28, a two-round shot against Michael Washa.
Triston Casas hit Homer solo and Rhys McGuire threw a three-stroke driver for Boston in a four-round seventh by Clark Schmidt. Harrison Bader had a bound fly in the eighth after Stanton made a one-hit and a base stolen by Tim Locastro – he was initially called out but a video review reversed the decision.
Donaldson addressed his teammates after the Yankees earned their record 58 post-season appearances with their 16th major league win of the season, one shy of the team standard set in 1947.
He told them, “Welcome back to the playoffs.”
New York has a 7 1/2 game in AL East over second-placed Toronto, on track for the first round bye. Boone became the first coach to reach post-season in each of his first five seasons, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
“We’re into dancing and we have a chance now,” he said.
Aroldis Chapman had another shaky outing for the Yankees in relief, running twice with one in eighth—and the second on four pitchers.
Red Sox: 2B Trevor Story (bruised left heel) is back on the 10-day casualty list, retroactively to Monday, and 1B/3B Bobby Dalbec of Triple-A Worcester has been recalled.
Yankees: LHP Zack Britton (Tommy John’s surgery) was activated from IL for 60 days and LHP Wandy Peralta was (again) placed in IL for 15 days, retrospectively to Monday.
New York Ice Gerrit Cole (12-7, 3.41) starts against Boston LHP Rich Hill (7-7, 4.70) Friday night.
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