NEW YORK —With 13 games remaining on the Yankees schedule the pressure is mounting on Yankees slugger Aaron Judge to hit number 61 homer tying Roger Maris 1961 famed record.
Judge is still one shy of the American League record set by Maris. But the Yankees did one important thing, close the Bosox out. In the 10th-inning Josh Donaldson’s RBI single gave them a 5-4 win over the Boston and clinched their sixth straight playoff berth and 24th in 28 years in front of an announced crowd of 43, 123.
“A great accomplishment. A lot of hard work over the course of the season to get to this point,” said Judge, who also threw out a runner at second base to starve off Boston in the ninth. “But I think you could ask anybody in this room: The job’s not finished. We have an ultimate goal of going out there and winning our division, and setting ourselves up for the postseason. And this is step No. 1, step No. 1 of many steps to come.”
Judge walked three times and struck out once before he smoked a fastball off Matt Barnes straightaway center.
The shot got the 43k plus on their feet but seconds later, groans arose in unison. Kike’ Hernandez made the catch just a few feet from the 404 feet wall enclosure.
“I just got underneath it a little bit,” he said. “A pretty windy night, so I was hoping maybe it was blowing out at the time I was hitting, but just missed it.”
If it was 80 degrees instead of the game time temperature of a nippy 68 degrees, the ball would of definitely left the park.
RHP Jameson Taillon who pitched a flawless six scoreless innings had command of his pitches and blew batters away with his 90+ fastball consistently.
After an 0-for-2 night, Judge remained on pace to win the AL Triple Crown with a .316 batting average and 128 RBI. Boston’s Xander Bogaerts is second in batting at .314 after going hitless in five at-bats.
With the score tied at 4, Tommy Pham led off the ninth with a one-hopper off the right-field wall against reliever Clay Holmes (7-4). Judge played the ball of the wall and threw a strike to shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa for the on the money tag.
In the 10th, with pinch-runner Marwin Gonzalez at second, reliever Kaleb Ort (0-2) intentionally walked Gleyber Torres before Donaldson smashed a shot past the diving third baseman Rafael Devers into left field.
“I go out there and get caught up in the history of what he could potentially be doing and I start tiptoeing around the at-bat, I’m probably going to hang something,” Barnes said.
New York has a 7 1/2-game lead in the AL East over second-place Toronto, on track for a first-round bye. Boone became the first manager to reach the postseason in each of his first five seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was on hand awaiting to see if Judge would tie the record.
New York Gerrit Cole (12-7, 3.41) starts against Boston LHP Rich Hill (7-7, 4.70) on Friday night.