Josh Donaldson drives in winning run, Yankees sweep Tigers

Josh Donaldson Yankees Tigers
New York Yankees’ Josh Donaldson, center, celebrate with his teammates after hitting the game winning sacrifice fly in the tenth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Sunday, June 5, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The only thing New York Yankees DH Josh Donaldson was thinking when he stepped up to the plate against Gregory Soto in the bottom of the 10th was just to make contact with the ball and put it in the air. 

He did just that when he sent a 2-2 fastball deep into left field to score Aaron Judge and secure the Yankees’ sixth straight victory in a 5-4 win over the Detroit Tigers. New York now owns baseball’s best record through the first third of the year since the 2001 Seattle Mariners at 39-15, and the win helped the Yankees complete the series sweep over the Tigers. 

Anthony Rizzo was able to move Aaron Judge, who started the 10th on second, over to third after he singled to left. Judge scored on a deep fly ball from Donaldson to left field. 

“I’m just trying to find the barrel at that time to be able to get a ball hopefully up in the air,” Donaldson said. “He’s a tough guy to elevate just because he throws 100. He’s got a nasty slider and he throws a sinker. … I was just really trying to do a good job staying within myself and choking up, that’s something I normally do, but I choked up a little bit right there.

“Tried to give me a little bit more bat control and it worked out.”

Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery threw 6.1 innings on Sunday while allowing five hits and two runs. He finished the afternoon outing with five strikeouts on 90 pitches. 

The outing snapped a stretch of five straight games where a Yankees starter had allowed one or fewer runs. Clarke Schmidt, Miguel Castro, Wandy Peralta, and Michael King each came into the game in relief. King was credited with the win. 

Yankees pitchers have allowed just 16 runs over the last 11 games, which matched a single-season record for the fewest runs in an 11-game span. 

New York battled back twice on Sunday afternoon in a game that had a rare 11:35 start time due to the broadcast being on Peacock. The win over the Tigers was their sixth walk-off win of the year.

“Tough draw, 11:30 game,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Monty comes out and pitches really well for us into the seventh inning. Keeps us right there and just some winning things happen.”

After falling behind in the fourth, the Yankees used the fifth inning to tie the game back up. Joey Gallo knotted the game up at two off a two-run home run to right field.

New York nearly didn’t score in the fifth, but a crucial challenge kept the inning alive. Boone challenged a called out on Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s attempt to steal second that would have ended the inning and the play was overturned. 

The Yankees captured the lead in the bottom half of the seventh after loading the bases. Reliever Alex Lang walked DJ LeMahieu on four pitches to drive in a run and give the Yankees a 3-2 lead. 

The Tigers responded in the eighth inning when Miguel Cabrera hit a two-out single to center to drive in Will Castro from second base to tie the game at three and Detroit retook the lead when  Javier Baez hit a ground ball that allowed pinch-runner Kody Clemens to score the go-ahead run.

The Tigers’ lead was short-lived as Rizz0 single-handedly tied the game in the bottom half of the inning.

After the Yankees’ first baseman was hit by a pitch to reach first, he stole second base and an errant throw allowed him to get to third. Rizzo then was able to score on a bouncer to third by beating the throw, which sailed just out of reach for Detroit catcher Eric Haase. 

The Tigers broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fourth inning when Baez doubled to center field and scored Cabrera, who had walked in the prior at-bat. Daz Cameron singled to center after the ball was deflected by Gleyber Torres, which allowed Baez to score to make it 2-0 Tigers. 

The pair of runs ended the Yankees’ scoreless streak at 22.1 innings. 

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