Aaron Judge’s bid for history came up just short, as his fly ball to center in the bottom of the ninth didn’t make it out.
But the Yankees still won their fourth straight and clinched a playoff spot in dramatic fashion, with Josh Donaldson delivering a game-winning RBI single to left to score pinch-runner Marwin Gonzalez in a 5-4, 10-inning win over the Red Sox on Thursday.
Judge didn’t homer in the win, walking three times, striking out and hitting the ball to the warning track, but he made his presence felt in the field.
With the game tied, Tommy Pham led off the top of the ninth with a shot off the wall in right against Clay Holmes.
Judge played the bounce well and made a perfect throw to Isiah Kiner-Falefa to get Pham at second for the first out.
After Holmes pitched a perfect 10th, Gonzalez pinch ran for automatic runner Anthony Rizzo and Gleyber Torres was walked intentionally 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 gave up four runs in a disastrous sixth inning, capped by a three-run homer from Reese McGuire.
After Judge hit three homers in two games on Sunday and Tuesday, he wasn’t able to get one out on Wednesday against the Pirates and then got just a handful of pitches in the strike zone in Thursday’s series opener.
On a crisp night with a loud, tense crowd that resembled one from October, the Yankees faced Michael Wacha, a Judge nemesis, with Judge 0-for-14 with nine strikeouts against the right-hander.
Wacha walked Judge on four pitches to lead off the bottom of the first. Wacha then hit Rizzo with the first pitch of the next at-bat and Torres flied out to the warning track in left-center to get Judge to third.
With runners on the corners, Donaldson grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Judge walked again in the third, this time with one out on a full count, but the inning ended again with a double play.
After the bottom of the fourth ended with the Yankees hitting into their third double play of the game, they threatened in the fifth against Wacha.
Oswaldo Cabrera walked, Harrison Bader reached on an infield single and Kiner-Falefa singled up the middle to load the bases with no one out.
Kyle Higashioka knocked in the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly, bringing up Judge with runners on first and second.
Judge struck out, but Rizzo walked to load the bases again for Torres — who whiffed to keep it a one-run game.
Donaldson led off 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 gave up a homer to lefty-swinging Triston Casas, a single to Kike Hernandez and a walk to catcher Yu Chang.
Pinch-hitter Reese McGuire then slammed a homer to right-center on an 0-2 pitch to put the Yankees in a 4-3 hole.
Higashioka led off the bottom of the inning against John Schreiber with a double to the gap in right-center, which led to Judge being walked — not intentionally.
But Rizzo grounded into yet another double play. Pinch-runner Oswald Peraza got to third on the play and Torres walked.
Donaldson grounded out to end the threat.
Aroldis Chapman and Lou Trivino loaded the bases in the eighth, but Trivino escaped without giving up a run.
Stanton reached on an infield single to start the bottom of the inning and pinch-runner Tim Locastro stole second and moved to third as Oswaldo Cabrera grounded out. Bader’s sacrifice fly tied the game.