After Aaron Judge fell a few feet short of his 61st homer, New York Yankees fans cheered Thursday as Josh Donaldson delivered a 10th-inning single to clinch the team’s sixth straight playoff berth.
With pinch-runner Marvin Gonzalez at second for the automatic runner, Caleb Ort (0-2) intentionally walked Kleyber Torres, Donaldson lined a single past diving shortstop Xander Bogaerts into left field. Boston Red Sox and another postseason berth.
New York has a 7 1/2-game lead over Toronto in the AL East and is headed to the playoffs for the 24th time in 28 years.
“A great achievement. A lot of hard work over the season to get to this point,” Judge said. “But I think you can ask anybody in this room: The job’s not done. The ultimate goal is for us to go out there and win our division and set ourselves up for the postseason. And that’s step No. 1, step No. 1 of many steps to come.”
Judge walked three times and scored once before the score was tied at 4-all in the top of the ninth. The crowd of 43,123 was on its feet for every pitch, and Judge drove a 2-2 fastball from Matt Barnes to straightaway right-center.
“I came down a little bit,” Judge said. “It was a pretty windy night, so I was hoping it might have blown by the time I hit, but I missed it.”
The ball left the bat at 113 mph, and fans waited in anticipation as the umpire raced toward first base. But they cheered in unison when Gig Hernandez made a one-step catch in front of the fence, not far from the 408-foot mark — leaving Judge one more home run shy of the American League record set by Yankees slugger Roger Morris in 1961.
“It’s a little chilly tonight. Maybe it’s not for tonight. Maybe it’s another night,” Donaldson said.
“I thought the ball was gone.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.