The New York Yankees officially hurled the first of many monkeys off their back on Thursday night, nabbing a playoff berth with a victory over the Boston Red Sox. Entering the opener, either a win or an Orioles loss would have secured the Yankees at least a best-of-three Wild Card series, and the Bombers controlled their own destiny instead of backing into the postseason.
But there’s still plenty of pressure left to remove over the next few weeks, from individual accolades (Aaron Judge is still sitting on 60) to higher-profile clinches (the Yankees are up 7.5 games in the East, but a three-gamer in Toronto still looms). And, of course, when October arrives, the clock will reset, and a full-throated Yankees crowd will be desperately nervous nightly, seeking a World Series run for the first time since 2009.
Judge is well aware of all of this as he enters what might be (shouldn’t be, but might be!) his final postseason run in a Yankees uniform.
As Judge goes, the team goes, and the de facto captain made his official statement on Thursday night in the clubhouse after another walk-off win punched their ticket to the postseason.
In much the same way Judge’s final blast in the ninth hit a wall of wind, the reporters gathered around him were stonewalled after pressing him on what the clinch meant. Three words stood out: “Job’s not finished.”
Yankees, Aaron Judge claim ‘job’s not finished’ after clinching 2022 playoff berth
You want to buy the official Fanatics postseason shirts? How about just getting a “Job’s Not Finished” beefy tee. Because this team is well aware October is only the start of things.
And, as the postseason approaches, Judge is rounding into his final form, as are the rest of his Yankees teammates. After an August where absolutely nothing went right, the Yankees’ energy is beginning to change once more; they’re 12-6 in September, 8-2 in their past 10 games, and — perhaps most importantly — fans barely batted an eye when they went from up 3-0 to down 4-3 in the seventh in a blink on Thursday.
Nobody thought it was over and, lo and behold, it wasn’t. Lou Trivino survived an Aroldis Chapman-created jam, Judge gunned down Tommy Pham hunting a leadoff double in the ninth, and Clay Holmes was spectacular in the 10th to set up the walk-off. A lot had to go right to turn Thursday night into a subdued party, and when it mattered most, it all did.
Now, the team will quickly pivot focus to October — or was their focus there all along?
In early August, Brian Cashman maneuvered the roster around with an eye on the postseason, resting Luis Severino, shipping Jordan Montgomery to St. Louis, and adding Harrison Bader to man center field.
As the team draws closer to polishing off the AL East, all of those moves suddenly feel more impactful, and the swagger has returned to the clubhouse. Maybe these folks had the right mentality all along?
The team wasn’t finished in August. And the job’s not finished now.