NEW YORK -- The Yankees received all the good news they needed from the out-of-town scoreboard on Wednesday, but the Red Sox delayed a potential celebration, scoring four runs in the top of the 11th inning to spoil the party with a 9-5 victory at Yankee Stadium.
A victory would have popped some corks in the home clubhouse, combined with the Twins' loss to the Indians and the Angels' loss to the Athletics. The Yankees have also been stuck on 9,999 regular-season victories, falling short in their third attempt to reach a round number milestone. Their magic number to clinch a playoff berth is now one.
"I think we're looking forward to that," closer Andrew Miller said. "We don't want to lose games, but we're fighting. We're doing everything we can. We're preparing just like we have all year. I think we're a pretty good team. I think we're going to get it."
Masahiro Tanaka returned to the rotation in a likely tune-up for a looming assignment in the American League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser and surrendered four runs in five innings, including Travis Shaw's three-run homer in the first inning. New York battled to produce four runs against Wade Miley, tying the game by batting around in a three-run fifth inning.
"We were aware that the Angels had lost and there was the potential for them to celebrate," said Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo. "We hung in there through a lot of difficult circumstances to hold off that celebration. It wasn't our only motivation. We want to win as many games as we can."
Alex Rodriguez briefly gave the Yankees the lead with a sixth-inning homer off Matt Barnes, but Betts quickly answered with a solo shot off Dellin Betances that evened the score. The Yanks threatened in the seventh and eighth innings, boosted by six Sox walks, but New York was unable to score. The Yanks' Didi Gregorius went hitless in five at-bats, leaving 10 men on.
"It's frustrating, because we had a lot of opportunities," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's unfortunate we weren't able to come up with another run."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Mookie caps monster month: The game-tying homer by Betts with two outs in the eighth came against one of the best relievers in the game in Betances. It was a certifiable missile, leaving the bat at an exit velocity of 105 mph and traveling a projected distance of 427 feet, according to Statcast™. Betts later drilled a two-run, insurance homer in the 11th. In September, Betts hit .389 with 42 hits, 12 doubles, five homers, 13 RBIs and had a 1.085 OPS.
"It's hard to believe that 160 pounds can generate that type of bat speed and that torque on a baseball, but he does and there's some strength in there. There's a balanced swing and he's not missing his pitch right now," said Lovullo. More >
A-Rod's big swing: Rodriguez provided the Yankees with their first lead of the evening with his sixth-inning home run on a 95-mph fastball. The blast was Rodriguez's first in 39 at-bats and marked his 1,065th RBI as a Yankee, tying Jorge Posada for 11th place on the franchise all-time list. Rodriguez reached base four times, a good sign after the Yanks sensed signs of fatigue from the 40-year-old slugger.
"I thought he swung the bat extremely well," Girardi said. "Yesterday was a long, emotional day for a lot of guys. A lot of us went to Yogi [Berra's] funeral and it was a long day. I don't know if that had anything to do with it, but he looked great today."
Shaw's opening salvo: Shaw put the Yankees on their heels early by belting a mammoth three-run homer to right with two outs in the first. Statcast™ had the exit velocity of the rookie's homer at 110 mph with a projected distance of 421 feet. Shaw has 13 homers, and all of them have come since Aug. 1.
Tanaka's tune-up: While Tanaka was not dominant, the Yankees saw enough that they would be comfortable giving him the ball for the AL Wild Card Game. Tanaka, who had not pitched since Sept. 18 due to a strained right hamstring, walked one and struck out three, throwing 56 of 95 pitches for strikes.
"I think my stuff got a little bit better as the game went on," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I think early on I struggled a bit. Maybe it has to do with a little bit of the wind was a bit strong. … I have not been told if I'm pitching the Wild Card Game or not, but I think it was a good sign that I was able to come out from this game pretty strong." More >
"I thought we swung the bats extremely well. They ran a lot of balls down that we hit extremely hard. You put those two guys out there in center and left; they've been the difference-makers." -- Girardi, on Jackie Bradley Jr. and Betts
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Lefty Rich Hill will try to continue his amazing comeback story in Thursday night's finale of this four-game series. In his return as a starter -- a role he hadn't done in six years -- Hill is 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA. Last time out, he fired a two-hit shutout.
Yankees: Left-hander CC Sabathia (5-10, 4.82 ERA) will take the ball Thursday in the Yankees' last regular-season home game. In four starts since coming off the disabled list with right knee inflammation, Sabathia has posted a 2.25 ERA, and he has allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his last eight starts.