CLEVELAND (AP) — It took the New York 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 rival Tampa Bay — after a wild 10-9 win over the Cleveland 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 playoffs 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 Division Series next week in San Diego. New York went 2-8 during a testy season series with top-seeded Tampa Bay, which 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…