Aaron Judge falls short of hitting record-tying 61st home run but Yankees clinch playoff birth

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The Bronx was on the edge of its seat as Aaron Judge looked to have hit the home run that would tie a long-held franchise record in Thursday night’s game between the Yankees and Red Sox but it ultimately just fell short of the wall. 

But Yankees could find some solace in the fact New York clinched its playoff birth with an extra-inning, walk-off 5-4 win against the Red Sox after Josh Donaldson´s 10th-inning single.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Judge – who has 4 walk-off home runs to his name – stepped up to the plate to try and add another to his season-long tally. 

On a 2-2 pitch delivered by Matt Barnes, Judge swung and connected with the ball, sending it deep to center field. 

The 404-foot drive caught just in front of the center field wall and fell, landing in the glove of Red Sox outfielder Kike Hernandez.

Aaron Judge looked to have hit the home run that would tie a long-held franchise record 

New York clinched its playoff birth with an extra-inning, walk-off 5-4 win against the Red Sox

New York clinched its playoff birth with an extra-inning, walk-off 5-4 win against the Red Sox

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Judge stepped up to the plate in search of No. 61

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Judge stepped up to the plate in search of No. 61

Judge had walked three times and struck out once before he came to the plate with the score tied 4-all in the ninth. 

The crowd of 43,123 was on its feet for every pitch, and Judge drove a 2-2 fastball from Matt Barnes just to the right of straightaway center. 

Yankee Stadium thought it witnessed history as the ball sailed toward the centerfield wall, but instead, it just missed. 

‘I just got underneath it a little bit,’ Judge said. ‘A pretty windy night, so I was hoping maybe it was blowing out at the time I was hitting, but just missed it.’ 

The slugger drove a 2-2 fastball from Matt Barnes just to the right of straightaway center

The slugger drove a 2-2 fastball from Matt Barnes just to the right of straightaway center

The ball left the bat at 113 mph, and fans waited in anticipation as Judge jogged toward first base. 

But they groaned in unison as Kiké Hernández made the catch a step in front of the fence, not far from the 408-foot sign – leaving Judge still one home run shy of the American League record set by Yankees slugger Roger Maris in 1961.

‘Tonight it’s a little cool. Maybe it wasn’t meant for tonight. Maybe it’s another night,’ Donaldson said. ‘I thought that ball was gone.’

At home, the camera attempting to find the ball made it seem like it was launched into orbit, but after finding it falling to the ground, it was all in vain.

Josh Donaldson´s 10th-inning single sealed the victory for New York at Yankee Stadium

Josh Donaldson´s 10th-inning single sealed the victory for New York at Yankee Stadium 

Fans on Twitter had a range of reactions – from shock that he didn’t hit the home run, to anger at the camera man.

On social media user posted: ‘Camera dude had this ball going to Pluto’ 

Another tweeted: ‘That camera man should be behind bars after that atrocity. Heart still racing. Aaron Judge still good at baseball.’ 

‘Thoughts and prayers to all the moms of kids whose dads woke them up while screaming over Aaron Judge’s near-miss home run at 10:38pm this evening,’ one account joked. 

Fans watching the game reacted as Aaron Judge fell just a few feet short of a home run

Fans watching the game reacted as Aaron Judge fell just a few feet short of a home run

Another claimed the cameraman had acted as if it was the record-breaking homer as they said: ‘FOX camera guy panned up to the sky like Aaron Judge hit 62 only for him to pan down to Kike Hernandez making the catch.’ 

Meanwhile another branded it an ‘all-timer’ as they wrote: ‘That Aaron Judge non-home run was an all-timer. Everybody watching on TV was sure it was history. Incredible. How can you not be romantic about baseball.’ 

One user posted: ‘Popped outta my seat #61 #AaronJudge,’ along with a photo of chat show host Seth Myers saying, ‘So close… so close.’

One user claimed that it was an 'all-time as they claimed everyone was sure it was history

One user claimed that it was an ‘all-time as they claimed everyone was sure it was history

Earlier in the game, fans were up in arms as Red Sox pitcher Michael Wacha walked Judge three in his first three at-bats of the game.

‘[Red Sox manager] Alex Cora said they are going after Judge. They’ve now walked him 3 out of 4 times,’ tweeted baseball writer Jon Heyman.

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

ed Sox pitcher Michael Wacha walked Judge three in his first three at-bats of the game

ed Sox pitcher Michael Wacha walked Judge three in his first three at-bats of the game

Judge also threw out a runner at second base to help hold off the Red Sox in the ninth

Judge also threw out a runner at second base to help hold off the Red Sox in the ninth  

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

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

With that win, the Yankees have clinched the playoffs for the sixth straight season. They currently lead the AL East by 7.5 games over the Toronto Blue Jays, with the magic number to clinch the division being seven. 

‘A great accomplishment. A lot of hard work over the course of the season to get to this point,’ Judge said. 

‘But I think you could ask anybody in this room: The job´s not finished. We have an ultimate goal of going out there and winning our division, and setting ourselves up for the postseason. And this is step No. 1, step No. 1 of many steps to come.’ 

Judge faces Rich Hill on the mound tomorrow night as his chase for home run no. 61 continues.

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