They’re in! Yankees clinch playoff spot with Josh Donaldson’s walk-off over Red Sox

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NEW YORK — The Yankees are in.

Josh Donaldson’s walk-off single in the 10th inning gave the Yankees not just a 5-4 win over the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night, but it also guaranteed them a playoff spot.

The Yankees’ magic number was one, and they needed either to win or for Baltimore to lose. Instead, the Orioles drubbed the Astros.

Donaldson ripped a grounder through the left side and past diving third baseman Rafael Devers. Boston had intentionally walked Gleyber Torres to start the inning to try for the force out with extra-innings runner Marwin Gonzalez on second base. Gonzalez was pinch running for Anthony Rizzo.

Gonzalez scored without an issue and the Yankees celebrated wildly on the field.

The victory also pushed the Yankees’ first-place lead in the American League East to 7 1/2 games. Second-place Toronto lost to the Rays earlier in the night.

Aaron Judge came within just 4 feet of tying Roger Maris’ single-season Yankees record of 61 home runs.

With one out in the ninth inning, Judge tanked a high fly ball that hung in the air seemingly forever. It was caught just in front of the 408-feet sign in center field, eliciting a loud groan from Yankees fans. He went 0-for-2 with three walks and a strikeout.

In the ninth, Judge made an incredible throw for the first out of the inning, getting Tommy Pham out at second base. Pham hit a lined shot into the corner off reliever Clay Holmes, and the ball bounced, hit off a fan’s hands and into Judge’s glove. Judge’s throw was perfect and beat Pham by plenty.

Judge entered the night with terrible career numbers against Red Sox starting pitcher Michael Wacha. Judge was hitless in 14 at-bats vs. the veteran right-hander with nine strikeouts.

Wacha walked Judge on four pitches to start the game, the crowd booing loudly with each pitch. In the third, Wacha walked Judge again, but in a full count. Then he fanned Judge in the fifth. In the seventh, reliever John Schreiber wanted nothing to do with becoming the answer to a trivia question, walking judge on five pitches.

It’s been 10 at-bats since Judge crushed No. 60 on Tuesday night.

Jameson Taillon made his bid for a spot in the playoff rotation, pitching six scoreless innings while striking out eight and walking one. Holmes earned the win with two scoreless innings to end it.

A four-run seventh zapped the Yankees’ lead.

Clarke Schmidt, who took over for Taillon, gave up a leadoff shot to rookie Triston Casas that just made it over the short porch in right field to make it 3-1 Yankees. Then Schmidt gave up a single to right field and a walk. That brought up Reese McGuire, who hammered a three-run home run to right-center despite a 0-2 count to eclipse the advantage.

Kyle Higashioka’s fifth-inning, bases-loaded sacrifice fly to left field brought in Oswaldo Cabrera for the Yankees’ first run and the game’s first lead. They loaded the bases again on Anthony Rizzo’s walk, but Gleyber Torres struck out swinging to end the threat.

They extended their advantage to 3-0 in the next inning thanks to Stanton’s two-run shot that brought in Josh Donaldson, who singled. Stanton’s homer just sneaked over the wall in right-center and it was his second bomb in three games.

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Brendan Kuty may be reached at bkuty@njadvancemedia.com

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