The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox each scored dramatic late-inning wins to bring the MLB regular season to a thrilling end on Sunday, setting up a wild-card showdown between the longtime rivals.
The final day of a 162-game, six-month marathon began with four teams — the Yankees, Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners — all in contention for two American League wild-card spots, and when the dust settled it was two of baseball’s most storied clubs still standing.
The Yankees left it about as late as they possibly could to clinch their place, with Aaron Judge connecting on a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth for a 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
“It’s been a crazy, wild year,” New York manager Aaron Boone said after the Yankees reached the postseason for the 23rd time in 27 years. “Fitting that it would come down to the last day to get in.
“We’re ready to take our shot.”
It was also a nail-biter in Washington, where the Red Sox were trailing the Washington Nationals 5-1 after five innings, then rallied for six unanswered runs.
Rafael Devers broke a 5-5 tie in the top of the ninth with his second homer of the day, a one-out, two-run shot to deep center.
The Red Sox will host the Yankees in the wildcard game on Tuesday at Fenway Park, with the winner moving on to the Divisional Series against the AL East champion Rays.
Toronto and Seattle went into the day needing a win combined with a New York or Boston loss to force a tiebreaker and extend their seasons.
The Blue Jays did what they had to do, hammering the Baltimore Orioles 12-4, while the Mariners’ season finished with a disappointing 7-3 loss against the Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani hit a leadoff homer, his 46th of the season, to put the Mariners in a hole they would never escape from.
The Blue Jays hit five home runs in a 10-1 rout of the Orioles on Saturday. Their bats were booming again on Sunday, with the lineup banging out four homers, including a third-inning grand slam from George Springer and a two-run shot from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for his 48th of season.
Over in the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, MLB’s top two teams, started play with first place in the NL West up for grabs.
The both produced impressive wins — the Giants beat the San Diego Padres 11-4 while the Dodgers thumped Milwaukee 10-3.
The Giants took the division title with a record of 106-55 while the 105-56 Dodgers settled for an NL wildcard and will face the St. Louis Cardinals the one-game wild-card contest on Wednesday.
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