Marathon caps sweep

Yan­kees to face ri­val Rays af­ter record-set­ting game

Daily Press - - Baseball - By Tom Withers

CLEVE­LAND — It took the Yan­kees nearly five hours on the field, car­ried them from Wednesday to Thurs­day and Sep­tem­ber into Oc­to­ber to com­plete the sweep.

They stum­bled into the 2020 post­sea­son. They’re stand­ing tall now.

DJ LeMahieu’s tiebreak­ing sin­gle in the ninth in­ning off closer Brad Hand sent the Yan­kees into the AL Di­vi­sion Se­ries — and a matchup with the ri­val Rays — af­ter a wild 10-9 win over the In­di­ans early Thurs­day in the long­est nine-in­ning game in ma­jor league his­tory.

“I’m 47 years old. I’ve watched a lot of base­ball. I’ve watched a lot of my dad’s play­off games, been in some re­ally big games, and I don’t know how you top that one — the back and forth, the amount of big plays,” Yan­kees man­ager Aaron Boone said. “Tonight just had that feel­ing that these guys weren’t go­ing to be de­nied. “They weren’t go­ing to lose.”

At 4 hours, 50 min­utes — even with­out two rain de­lays to­tal­ing another 76 min­utes — it was drain­ing. It’s no won­der af­ter Aroldis Chap­man got the fi­nal out well af­ter 1 a.m. that

the Yan­kees barely cel­e­brated on the field. They ob­served COVID pro­to­cols and shared some fist bumps as they left.

“You don’t have to pour cham­pagne on each other to ap­pre­ci­ate what an epic game that was and the fact that we’re mov­ing on,” Boone said.

The Yan­kees will play the Rays in a best-of-five ALDS next week in San Diego. The Yan­kees went 2-8 dur­ing a testy sea­son se­ries with top-seeded Rays, who won the AL East by seven games over the sec­ond-place Yan­kees.

“They’ve been the best team in our league all year, so we’re ex­cited to play

the best team and hope­fully can have our way with them,” Boone said.

LeMahieu, the AL batting cham­pion dur­ing the short­ened, 60-game reg­u­lar sea­son, grounded his hit into cen­ter field to score Gio Ur­shela, who hit a go-ahead grand slam ear­lier and made a huge de­fen­sive play at third base.

“That was one of the best games I’ve played in my life,” Ur­shela said.

Down 9-8, the Yan­kees tied it in the ninth on Gary Sanchez’s sac­ri­fice fly off Hand, who went 16 of 16 on save tries dur­ing the sea­son but was stung by a walk.

DAVID DER­MER/AP

DJ LeMahieu and the Yan­kees swept the In­di­ans to ad­vance to the ALDS.

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