Referee just under 61, Yanks grab the playoff berth

NEW YORK – Aaron Judge fell a few feet off the record-setting 61st homer, hitting 404 feet in front of a central field wall in the ninth inning, and the New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 5-4 Thursday night on Josh Donaldson’s 10th song to seal their berth Sixth in a row.

The judge had walked three times and hit once before coming to the plate with a 4 – all-in nine tie. The 43,123 crowd was on his feet on every court, and Judge drove a 2-2 quick ball from Matt Barnes to the right of center.

The ball left the bat at 113 mph, and fans waited in anticipation as the judge sprinted toward first base. But they groaned in unison when Kiké Hernández made a step in front of the fence, not far from the 408-foot mark.

The judge also fired a runner at second base for helping hold off Boston in the ninth, showing his defensive prowess. Tommy Pham hit a single hopper from the right field wall against Clay Holmes (7-4). The judge played carom and off the caution track delivered a heavy blow to Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s delivery of the mark. It was the judge’s sixth assist this season.

Then in the 10th, with discus runner Marwin Gonzalez in second as the auto sprinter, Caleb Ort (0-2) deliberately walked into Gleiber Torres before Donaldson stopped a lone goal after a short dive by Xander Bogarts and into left field.

Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-part shot for the Yankees, and Harrison Bader had a fly-by for eighth after Stanton had a one-hit.

New York heads into the playoffs for the 24th time in 28 years, and the Yankees are leading 7 1/2 games in the AL East.

Triston Casas hit Homer solo and discus hitter Rhys McGuire delivered a three-in-four-stroke boost to Clark Schmidt’s seventh as Boston overcame a 3-0 delay.

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 (with a bruised left heel) is back on the 10-day hit list 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 ace Gerrit Cole (12-7, 3.41) starts against LHP Rich Hill (7-7, 4.70) Friday night.

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