EditorsNote: adds “Giancarlo” in fifth graf
Aaron Hicks hit an RBI double with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning, and the New York Yankees clinched a wild-card spot with a 3-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees (95-59) are assured of playing in the one-game playoff on Oct. 3 for the second straight season. They entered with a magic number of two over the Tampa Bay Rays, who lost 5-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays in a game that went final while the Yankees were in the eighth inning.
New York still leads Oakland by 1 1/2 games for home-field advantage in the wild-card game. The A’s (94-61) beat the Minnesota Twins 3-2 later Saturday.
“It’s a privilege to get an opportunity to play postseason baseball and have an opportunity to chase the ultimate prize, and we have that opportunity now,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “There’s going to be 18 other teams going home, so I think it’s really important that we appreciate it, never take it for granted. I’m just really proud to be associated with these guys and the ups and downs we’ve been through this year.”
Didi Gregorius started the 11th inning by singling on the second pitch from left-hander Paul Fry (0-2). After Giancarlo Stanton struck out, Hicks ensured the champagne celebration in the clubhouse by hitting Fry’s 2-2 breaking ball down the left field line.
Gregorius slid in with the winning run headfirst ahead of shortstop Jonathan Villar’s throw, and Hicks was mobbed by his teammates between second and third.
Tommy Kahnle (2-0) worked around a two-out single to rookie Cedric Mullins in the 11th after Jonathan Holder escaped a bases-loaded jam in the 10th.
Baltimore (44-110) lost for the 16th time in 20 games and moved within one of the franchise record for defeats in a season set by the 1939 St. Louis Browns, who finished 64 1/2 games out of first place.
The Yankees took a 2-0 lead on solo homers by Hicks and Luke Voit in a span of three batters in the third off Baltimore starter David Hess. Hicks reached the second deck in right with his 26th while Voit’s 11th with the Yankees hit a sign in the back of the New York bullpen beyond the right-center-field fence.
Voit’s latest homer was New York’s 251st of the season, 12 away from the all-time record set by the 1997 Seattle Mariners. It occurred after Miguel Andujar was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.
The Orioles tied the game when Breyvic Valera scored on a throwing error by catcher Gary Sanchez in the third and rookie DJ Stewart had an RBI single in the fifth.
New York’s Lance Lynn allowed two runs (one earned) on seven hits in five innings.
Hess also went five innings, allowing two runs on four hits.
“It’s awesome,” Lynn said of the Yankees heading to the postseason. “You come in every season trying to make the playoffs. We’ve clinched a spot. We still have work to do. We want to get that home-field advantage for the wild-card game.”
—Field Level Media