NEW YORK: The New York Yankees clinched a playoff spot nine days after the legendary Yogi Berra died, beating the Boston Red Sox 4-1 to record their 10,000th win in franchise history.
The milestone victory carried added significance on Thursday (Friday in Manila) for the Yankees who claimed a wild card spot and also avoided a series sweep to the rival Red Sox.
“It is a relief,” said Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez. “It has been an emotional week for us when you think about Yogi’s funeral and finally clinching.”
New York needs one more win or one more loss by the Houston Astros to get the home field advantage in Tuesday’s Major League Baseball wild card contest.
Right fielder Carlos Beltran, first baseman Greg Bird and second baseman Rob Refsnyder hit solo home runs while pitcher CC Sabathia tossed five innings while pitching through cold and rain at times.
The Yankees (87-72) are back in the playoffs for the first time since they won 95 games and their last AL East title.
“We had to overcome lot of obstacles,” Rodriguez said. “We come together the last eight months as a team. We don’t play for statistics, we play as a team and that has been our DNA.”
Beltran hit his 19th home run in the second off Boston pitcher Rich Hill, and Bird added some breathing room by hitting his 11th homer with one out in the seventh off Jean Machi in front of a crowd of 40,033.
Refsnyder tacked on more runs, hammering a fastball from Heath Hembree over the left-center field fence.
Sabathia allowed one run and six hits in his fifth start since returning from a right knee problem.
He put nine of the 22 batters he faced on base, but only allowed an RBI single to center fielder Mookie Betts in the fifth inning.
Sabathia got some much needed help from his defense, which completed double plays on shortstop Xander Bogaerts and right fielder Rusney Castillo in the third and fourth innings.
Sabathia ended his outing by getting first baseman Travis Shaw on a fly ball to deep center field with the bases loaded.
The Red Sox were missing designated hitter David Ortiz, who has been dealing with general soreness, and was given the night off.