Judge rules as Yankees clinch last-gasp playoff berth

Los Angeles

New York slugger Aaron Judge smacked a walk-off single to send the Yankees into the Major League Baseball playoffs on Sunday, facing a blockbuster wild card game against the Boston Red Sox.

It came down to the wire, but the Yankees clinched their fifth straight playoff berth and their 23rd trip to the post-season in the past 27 years with a nerve-jangling 1-0 home victory over Tampa Bay in their season finale.

Facing left-hander Josh Fleming, Yankees second baseman Rougned Odor started the ninth-inning rally with a single to center field.

Pinch-runner Tyler Wade tagged up on a deep flyout, Anthony Rizzo singled and Judge delivered a run-scoring single that deflected off Rays right-handed hurler Andrew Kittredge. “Excited,” Judge said after his first career walk-off hit. “Especially after today’s game. It was a tough one. But everybody came to play.

“Our bullpen, our starting pitcher, what (Jameson Taillon) was able to do for us to start off the game and hold this (Rays) offense to nothing was big-time for us,” Judge said. “We’ve got a spot in the playoffs,” he added. “All you’ve got to do is just get in.”

The Yankees travel to Boston on Tuesday for a winner-take-all wild card game against a Red Sox team that secured their spot with a dramatic 7-5 victory over the Washington Nationals.

Boston’s Rafael Devers belted two home runs, incuding a 447-foot blast to center field with one out in the top of the ninth inning that broke a tie and saw the Red Sox secure the top wild card spot in the American League.

Both the Yankees and Red Sox finished the regular-season with 92-70 records, but Boston edged the Yankees 10-9 in regular-season meetings to earn home field advantage.—AFP

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