NEW YORK — In Game 162, Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge stepped up to the plate with a chance to send his team to the American League Wild Card Game.
As has been the case all season long, Judge delivered.
The slugger ripped a line drive off the glove of Rays right-hander Andrew Kittredge with two strikes. Trickling toward second base, Tyler Wade scampered home, sliding in safely to secure the 1-0 victory and clinch a postseason birth.
Pandemonium commenced as a raucous crowd of over 40 thousand fans erupted, watching the Yankees flood out of the first-base dugout and chase Judge to the outfield grass, mobbing him in celebration.
With the Red Sox taking care of business in Washington, defeating the Nationals, the Yankees will play in Boston for the Wild Card Game on Tuesday.
Rougned Odor led off the ninth with a bloop single to center field. Wade was immediately summoned off the bench to run for Odor and his presence was felt right away.
When Gleyber Torres flew out to the warning track in right-center field, just missing a walk-off two-run home run, Wade tagged from first, advancing into scoring position.
An Anthony Rizzo base hit allowed Wade to advance to third, held up at the last moment by third base coach Phil Nevin. That set the scene for Judge.
The walk-off single was Judge's first walk-off hit of his career, his 98th RBI of the season. He finishes the year batting .287/.373/.544 with 39 home runs, serenaded with "MVP" chants as he was shown on Yankee Stadium's Jumbotron following the decisive play.
New York's victory began with 3.1 scoreless innings from Jameson Taillon. From there, Yankees manager Aaron Boone managed his bullpen with urgency. The skipper called on his best and most reliable relievers, bringing his top five arms out of the 'pen into the game.
Wandy Peralta, Clay Holmes, Chad Green, Jonathan Loáisiga and Aroldis Chapman combined to shove 5.2 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and striking out six.
Meanwhile, the Bombers' bats were nonexistent early on. New York didn't have their first hit on Sunday until the fourth inning, held down by right-hander Michael Wacha early and often. A single from Torres—ripped back up the box and into center field—ended Wacha's modest no-hit bid.
Torres' base knock turned out to be the only hit New York would push across until the ninth inning.
Tampa Bay threatened in the eighth, but Jonathan Loáisiga made sure to keep the score knotted at 0-0.
Following an infield single, Rays right fielder Randy Arozarena stole second and advance to third on a deep fly ball to left field. With the go-ahead run 90 feet away, Loáisiga struck out Nelson Cruz and got Austin Meadows to fly out softly to right field.
Former Yankees closer David Robertson pitched a spotless bottom of the eighth. Then, current Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman twirled a clean top of the ninth.