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Aaron Judge just short of tie record, but Yankees quit Red Sox and clinch playoff berth

NEW YORK – Aaron Judge fell within feet of a record 61st home run, hitting a 404-foot drive taken just past the center field wall, and the New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 5-4 on Thursday night on Josh Donaldson’s 10th-inning single to clinch his sixth consecutive playoff spot.

The judge had walked three times and struck out once before arriving at home plate tied 4-all in the ninth. The crowd of 43,123 was on their feet for every pitch, and Judge tossed a 2-2 fastball from Matt Barnes just right of center right away.

“I just got a little under it,” Judge said. “A fairly windy night, so I was hoping it might be blowing as I struck, but I just missed it.”

The ball left the bat at 113 mph, and fans waited impatiently as Judge ran for first base. But they groaned in unison as Kiké Hernández stepped past the fence not far from the 408-foot backboard – leaving the judge still one home run away from the American League record set by Yankees slugger Roger Maris in 1961.

“Tonight is kinda cool. Maybe it wasn’t meant for tonight. Maybe it’s another night,” Donaldson said. “I thought that bullet was gone.”

The judge also kicked out a runner at second base to help hold off Boston at ninth, showing off his defensive prowess. Tommy Pham hit a jump off the right field wall against Clay Holmes (7-4). The judge played the carom and from the warning lane threw a strike to shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa for the tag. It was Judge’s sixth assist this season.

Then in the 10th, with pinch runner Marwin Gonzalez second as an auto runner, Kaleb Ort (0-2) intentionally walked Gleyber Torres before Donaldson landed a single shot just past diving shortstop Xander Bogaerts and into left field.

Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run homer for the Yankees, and Harrison Bader hit a tying sacrifice fly in the eighth after Stanton’s first single.

New York has a 7½ game lead in the AL East against Toronto and is heading to the playoffs for the 24th time in 28 years.

“A great achievement. Lots of hard work over the season to get to this point,” Judge said. “But I think you could ask anyone in this room: the job is not done. We have an ultimate goal to go out there and win our division, and get ready for the playoffs. . And this is step 1, step 1. 1 of many steps to come.”

Triston Casas hit a solo homer and pinch hitter Reese McGuire delivered a three-run drive in a four-run seventh against Clarke Schmidt as Boston overcame a 3-0 deficit.


Aroldis Chapman had another shaky outing for the relief Yankees, walking two batters with one out in the eighth — the second of four pitchers.


Red Sox: 2B Trevor Story (bruised left heel) returned to the 10-day injured list and 1B/3B Bobby Dalbec was recalled from Triple-A Worcester.

Yankees: LHP Zack Britton (Tommy John surgery) was activated from IL 60 days and LHP Wandy Peralta (back) was put on IL 15 days, retroactive 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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