Josh Donaldson kicked off the Yankees’ regular season with a walk-off hit to beat the Red Sox.
Five-plus months later, he did it again to punch their ticket to the postseason.
Donaldson continued to swing a hot bat at an important time, delivering an RBI single in the 10th inning to give the Yankees a 5-4 win over the Red Sox on Thursday night in The Bronx.
The veteran’s third hit of the night — and fourth walk-off hit of the season — scored automatic runner Marwin Gonzalez from second base and officially clinched a playoff berth for the Yankees with 13 games left in the season.
“It’s happened a couple times this year, [but] it doesn’t disappoint,” Donaldson said of delivering the game-winner.
The Red Sox intentionally walked Gleyber Torres to lead off the 10th, bringing up Donaldson. He said he understood why they did it, to set up a double-play scenario, but said the situation made him “happy.”
Donaldson fell behind 0-1 against Kaleb Ort before getting a 97 mph fastball up and in and chopping it through the left side to win it.
“That was a big one,” manager Aaron Boone said.
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Over his last 10 games since returning from a stint on the paternity list for the birth of his daughter, Donaldson is 13-for-41 (.317) with four extra-base hits and seven RBIs. He has reached base safely in 12 straight games while settling into the cleanup spot for a lineup that is still missing a few key pieces.
“He’s just getting some traction going,” Boone said. “I feel like he’s been close a lot throughout this year, where he gets it going for a day or two and then a little pullback. I feel like his energy’s been awesome. He’s really locked in and focused.
“We’re at that time of year where we’re playing for a lot obviously. I think you’re just seeing a really good player that’s locked in and enjoying being in the middle of winning scenarios a lot. It’s been good to see him getting more and more consistent results.”
Donaldson, who was awarded the player of the game belt in the Yankees’ clubhouse and gave a speech that welcomed his teammates to the postseason, attributed his increased production to getting some things to break his way.
“Not missing some pitches that I’m able to hit,” Donaldson said. “I feel like confidence-wise, I feel pretty good at the plate right now.”
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