Bronx, NY- It was never easy for the Yankees and Sunday in the Bronx they followed their theme of the 2021 season. in this final game against the Tampa Bay Rays and they were headed to another postseason.
The American League Wild-Card game is Tuesday. The Yankees got there but it wasn’t easy, which followed the script of 2021 Drama in the ninth inning of a scoreless game, and Aaron Judge got the walk-off single that sent the Yankees to their fifth consecutive postseason.
Though, it was not that Judge blast out of the ballpark, a 2-2 slider that went for a single and stayed in the infield. Tampa Bay pitcher Andrew Kittredge could not handle the play and the script followed in this Yankees season of streaks.
But one last game, it came to the end, punched their ticket to a Wild-Card game. This was the way MLB envisioned their day of Wild-Card havoc. The Red Sox won their game down in Washington, a Mariners loss, and the Blue Jays running out of time, despite a commanding win over the Orioles, that punched the Yankees ticket.
So no tie breakers that had everyone in a frenzy. Sunday all of baseball played game Number 163, and because the Red Sox held court in their season series with the Yankees, they got to host them in the AL Wild-Card game Tuesday evening at Fenway Park.
Winner moves on to the ALDS and the loser goes home as two storied franchises resume their rivalry, and isn’t that exactly what the baseball Gods asked for?
“Even in the valleys when we’ve struggled, I’ve always felt like this is a confident group,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “This group feels like they’re capable of special things. We’ve been playing meaningful games now for a couple of months as we’ve turned this around.”
And a postseason for the Yankees is supposed to be. The Yankees were built with a lineup and Gerrit Cole their ace, sufficient to show baseball they were the perennial favorites to win their division.
But it was that up-and-down inconsistency of their lineup. The winning and those losing streaks, widened the gap. The Rays took control of the division and at times the Red Sox.
The Yankees, though, showed resilience to the final inning and with Aaron Judge. They did not need extra innings and a ghost runner.The Yankees avoided that tie breaker that was all about drama Sunday afternoon in the Bronx.
It will take one more win over the Red Sox, then it’s another meeting with the Rays in the ALDS, a team that won 100 games with home field throughout the postseason.
“Getting the chance to be playing out there at Yankee Stadium in a game that if you win, you get a chance to go to the postseason,” Judge said. “Very few individuals get a chance to say that.”
Judge said it was a privilege to be part of a significant ballgame. The Yankees accomplished their mission and reached the postseason for the 23rd time in the last 27 years. They won 92 games without needing that extra game to be a part of October baseball.
“It’s relief, it’s joy,” Boone said. “This ride we have been on, it hasn’t been easy at all. A lot of people put a lot into this situation. We’ll enjoy this for a few minutes and then it’s back to work.”
And that work begins again Tuesday night. But like the Yankees season of 2021, it won’t come easy.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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